I'd like to first say Thanks! to Tony Karrer for linking back here.
I was reading Tony's eLearning Technology blog yesterday afternoon, and I saw his post about profile photos and how to use them for professional networking. It's a worthwhile topic, and one that is becoming especially important in the Web 2.0 world, where people across the spectrum of industry and professions seek to stay in touch with colleagues and to expand their opportunity nets for jobs, be they present or future.
The core of the topic is how a simple profile photo, or the lack of one, can convey positive or negative connotations to people making hiring decisions, or at the very least those in a position to take you and your opinions and work seriously. In a reply I posted to this topic thread, I agreed that profile photos on sites like LinkedIn or Facebook, or perhaps in a Ning group or on IM chat, can affect peoples' impressions of you as a person. It's the neverending struggle between sides in the Battle of First Impressions. I made a comment that even one's email address can positively or negatively affect one's chances of getting a job or being taken seriously in professional networking contexts.
My anecdote about a non-professional email address that I use and someone's somewhat negative reaction to it added another dimension to the profile photo question. I think one's email address is probably one of the very first dimensions someone in a position to make decisions about you. It's very acceptable to ask for one's email address about as quickly (perhaps even moreso) than you would ask for their phone number. If I'm a professional in a suit and tie seeking a job with a corporation, and I meet a representative of that corporation either in an interview sense or somewhere in public, I need to be cognizant of what a lowly email address can potentially convey. If my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, the person in the position of power may have a personal bias that could alleviate me from consideration almost at the outset. No offense to heavy metal shredding guitarists of course, but the email will betray my otherwise professional (suit and tie) attempts to land a good job.
As is always the case with first impressions, the first one has to be at least good - hopefully memorable - for the job to be landed or the opportunity to be grabbed. And we've all heard of the stories of those losing jobs or job opportunities due to a seedy MySpace page or by Tweeting what they think of the company they just landed a job at. What other possible pitfalls are out there that we might not immediately think about in this respect?