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Professionals’ guide to looking great in pictures

In a world where everyone has a headshot, it is important to know how to get a great photo without making yourself look silly. This is an exercise in honesty – we’re here to help you.

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[ba-youtubeflex videoid=”9PSOSNqHgwA”]

How not to look like a tool

You’ve seen your competitors’ headshots and laughed, but do you know if they’re laughing back at you? The video above outlines some great tips for taking a good shot and it doesn’t involve a Sears studio…

We thought we would outline some possibly controversial tips in how to market yourself in your picture. We’re living in a digital era where our faces are used as more than bus bench covers, our headshots appear as profile pictures and pop up next to every single update we write on social networks, in our emailers, in our newsletters, our websites and more. Our estimation in reading thousands of Realtor blogs and tweets and Facebook accounts is that only about half of all agents online have acceptable pictures used online. Let’s fix that.

Photo DOs and DON’Ts

We introduce you to these quick tips because we’ve been to enough conferences and met enough people that look nothing like their picture that we have literally felt lied to and betrayed by a gorgeous headshot but BLAH person in person, which leads us to the first tip:

  1. If you’re not hot, who cares? You’re here to sell your brand, not blockbuster movies, so be accurate in your pictures, don’t Photoshop. People will be HULK angry if you have a picture online that looks like Angelina Jolie but you show up looking like post-bender Courtney Love.
  2. Don’t be lame. No props, no fake books in the background, no side poses with the hand under the chin, no puppies, no kittens (okay, maybe kittens), no sneakers with your 1980s shoulder pad business suit, and no phones. Do you hear me? No cell phones or office phones in your picture- we get it, you know how to dial and put the receiver thingy to your ear hole, but so does a second grader – you look ridiculous. Stop it.
  3. Please use a photographer. If you’re not going to, at least don’t use a crappy phone with low resolution or a webcam in the dark that makes you look like you should be interviewed by Chris Hansen in To Catch a Predator.
  4. Avoid situational images. No fourth of July star spangled banners or Christmas turtlenecks because you’ll have to change them frequently and they’re probably cheesy anyhow. See #2.
  5. No Glamor Shots. In 2011, if you’re using a Glamor Shot people are going to question if you have a second job in the “alternative” movie industry. You know what I mean.
  6. Be your age. If you use an outdated picture, people are going to talk about it, I promise. If you’re 50 and have grey hair, you are forbidden from using a picture of when you were 35 and a brunette. Be real.
  7. No props like sold signs. We get it, you are a professional, and probably a Realtor – it doesn’t need to beat anyone over the head. No pictures of you with your car, especially if it’s small and not gender appropriate. No thumbs up or “how you dooin? gun fingers” or people will think you’re on the cast of Jersey Shore. I admit, these all belong under #2, but we needed to spell it out in detail.

These are just a few pet peeves of ours and what people on Twitter said today when asked for their pet peeves.

Consumers are looking to trust you, and that’s a marketable trait, so let your photo be modern, simple like in the video, and realistic. Tell us in comments what pet peeves you have of professional headshots because if 50% of people are not doing this well, they need to know, even if it hurts. Sorry, puppy lovers.

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163 Comments

163 Comments

  1. Genevieve

    April 24, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    For some reason, I read the " no glamor shots line twice." Paranoia will destroy ya; thanks for the reminder, LAR. I'll forward you my new headshot before I post that bad boy.

    • Lani Rosales

      April 25, 2011 at 12:43 am

      Paranoia is funny! Thanks for not using any old nicknames, that's awesome. 🙂

  2. Jason Sandquist

    April 24, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    I always see Groupon offering Glamour Shot deals… #justsayin

    • Lani Rosales

      April 25, 2011 at 12:45 am

      Seriously? They're still around? Well we know who is keeping the in business then…. lol

  3. Heather O

    April 24, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Okay, I'm only the marketing girl … but I notice these things working for my REALTOR® hubby. So my favorites agent poses are listed here: 1. Super-crossed arms, elevated w/cocked eyebrows and all while posed, back-to-back with their teammate agent. 2. Agents with elbow on an oversized ampersand (always are on the vertical bus cards) 3. Lens-flared, glamazon shots 4. 72 DPI photos – c'mon now … hire a pro or a college kid.

    • Lani Rosales

      April 25, 2011 at 12:46 am

      Back to back is the WORST, I totally forgot about that one. Nothing screams "I'm 40 and haven't moved out of my parent's house" more than a back to back with your broker/mom…

      • Lori Luza

        April 25, 2011 at 8:23 am

        Heather, I'm sad to say it, but some of those sound like they did use a pro. The problem is that they either hired the studio at the mall, where props are part of the shtick. Or, maybe they hired a kids/family photographer instead of someone with experience in doing headshots.

        Good headshots come from a professional photographer with experience in that area… not from an hourly employee at the mall.

        • Heather O

          April 25, 2011 at 4:11 pm

          Lani, I just about snorted coffee all over my screen. You nailed it. And for the record I'm still giggling at the "How Not to Look Like a Tool" comment. ~ I am still a fan of someone leaning on the "ampersand" or the "&" sign on their business card … I completely blanked on the "on my cell phone and that means I'm busy" photo. ~ Lori, hey you tried right? 🙂 Can't hate on the fact you were trying to get the photo. It's true, but I think with Facebook, for my observation, photographers are at an all-time high and for someone not to get a new photo is more "I don't want to make the time" or "I'm afraid to reach out and get it done." Heck Yelp and Google reviews are a great way to find portfolios of local photogs. ~ This post rocks my marketing socks. :-)))

    • Mike McGee

      April 25, 2011 at 8:24 am

      Ah, you guys beat me to the back-to-back photos! There seems to be an epidemic of those in our market. Another one I hate is the jacket-over-the-shoulder look. Whose idea was that? If your photographer suggests an unnatural pose like that, fire him! I would love to post a link to my favorite example, but I guess that would be mean. 😉

  4. Paula Henry

    April 24, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    My favorite is the with the agent on the phone, then it was the cell phone. Really? Who thought that made us look cool. I'm certain someone is laughing at mine, but I do NOT have a phone. I could use a picture from a professional photographer. I do change my picture about twice a year, because my hair grows that fast. I have one with short hair and one with longer hair. Maybe, when I get my hair cut again, I'll try a professional shot. Of course, as i age, I think I'll just use my picture from when I first started in the biz 🙂

    • Lani Rosales

      April 25, 2011 at 12:47 am

      That's a good point Paula- for those of us who change our hair frequently, the profile shot HAS to be updated. I used to go from brunette to blonde and back a lot and constantly had to update!

  5. Ann Cummings

    April 25, 2011 at 7:02 am

    I've seen a few who've posed with their cars….still trying to figure out who said that one was cool. Or how about one using the computer that looks really really fake?

  6. "Tracey, the Safety Lady"

    April 25, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    I hate to be a spoil sport, but as a real estate agent safety trainer, I have to caution you about where, how often and the types of pictures you use. Having been an agent and with a sister who is an agent, I know that pictures are important for branding. I also know they are important to criminals for profiling. I cannot stop you from using pictures everywhere, but can offer some great points.

    Glamour Shot-type pictures are a no-no. Pictures on your yard signs are a no-no. Criminals see what they want, (I hear agents say that they are too old or ugly and no one wants them, it doesn't matter to a criminal), they may be looking for someone old; (supposed easier target), younger (more technology tools to steal), males and females both have cash, credit cards, jewelry, etc. Everyone is a target. You make it easier to find you. If they see the perfect victim pictured on the yard sign, all it takes is one phone call to get that would-be victim (you), to meet them at that empty house, (and you all meet strangers at empty houses!).

    Use professional pictures if you absolutely must! Use them with care and distribute only to your known COIs.

  7. sfvrealestate

    April 25, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    Lani, I'm so happy to know that you're a cat person!

    • Lani Rosales

      April 25, 2011 at 9:45 pm

      Oh Judy, it's almost an OBNOXIOUS affinity. Hi, I'm Lani and I'm a cat person. "Hi, Lani," the support group says. 😉

  8. Cliff Stevenson

    May 13, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    The phone pose kills me. Surprisingly, this shot is everywhere (at least in my market). You're so busy that you couldn't put the phone down for the shot? Having said that, I'm sure many could make cracks about my marketing photo.

  9. Valerie

    December 21, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Our team doesn't use photos. Our team is a green team and our logo is a green door which is on our cards, signs etc. Never felt the need for a photo and our customer's don't seem to mind. One less thing to worry about.

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Business Marketing

Google Analytics will now filter out bot traffic

(BUSINESS NEWS) Bender won’t be happy that Google Analytics will now automatically remove bot traffic from your results, but it’ll help your business.

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In the competitive, busy world of online content, Google Analytics can help businesses and online publications deliver what their audience and consumers want. Now Google is finally taking the step of filtering out bot traffic in your Google Analytics reporting. This is excellent news!

In the world of websites, online news sites, blogs, and social media, bots are the bane of our existence. In their finest form, they are the electronic equivalent of junk mail. At their worst, they can carry malicious malware and viruses to your site and computer. They can even flood the internet with unfounded rumors that can have an impact on people’s opinions–stirring the political pot or lending misleading numbers to drive unfounded rumors, such as wearing a mask is dangerous. No it’s not! Chalk that nonsense up to bots and crackpots.

For businesses that rely on Google Analytics to determine what content is not only reaching but also resonating with potential customers, filtering out the bot traffic is crucial to determining the best course of action. Bots skew the data and therefore, end up costing businesses money.

Bots set up for malicious purposes crawl the internet looking for certain information or user behaviors. Bad bots can steal copyrighted content and give it to a competitor. Having identical copies on two sites hurts your site and can dink your SEO ranking. However, good bots can seek out duplicate content and other copyright infringements, so the original content creator can report them.

However, it is important for companies and content creators to know if their content is actually reaching real live humans. To this end, Google will start filtering out bot traffic automatically. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) actually provides an International Spiders and Bots list, through which Google can more easily identify bots. They use the list and their own internal research to seek out bots in action, crawling through the internet and confusing things.

Google says the bot traffic will be automatically filtered out of the Google Analytics results–users don’t have the choice. Some may argue there is a good reason to see all of the data, including bots. Many businesses and online publications, though, will be relieved to have a much clearer vision of what content genuinely appeals to humans, to readers and potential customers. It is a welcomed advancement.

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Business Marketing

Opportunity Zones: A chance to do good

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Opportunity zones offer a chance to breathe new life into economically-distressed communities.

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opportunity zones

Opportunity Zones are a beautiful mechanism for growing communities that are struggling, but some critics have put this process in a negative light. The following is an expert’s perspective on just this topic.

Jim White, PhD is Chairman and CEO of Post Harvest Technologies, Inc. and Growers Ice Company, Inc., Founder and CEO of PHT Opportunity Fund LP, and Founder and President of JL White International, LLC. His new book is a heartfelt rallying cry for investors: Opportunity Investing: How to Revitalize Urban and Rural Communities with Opportunity Funds, launched March 31, 2020.

Dr. White holds a B.S. in civil engineering, an MBA, and a doctorate in psychology and organizational behavior. He acquires struggling businesses to revive and develop them into profitable enterprises using his business turnaround strategy.

In his own words below:

BY JIM WHITE, PHD

Every investment vehicle has a twist some folks don’t like. Real estate, stock options, offshore tax havens, and even charitable gifting can be criticized for certain loopholes.

Likewise, some detractors have pointed to opportunity zones, a newer investment vehicle unveiled in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress in December 2017. This bold, bipartisan plan allows for private investment capital to be channeled into some of the most distressed communities in the nation, serving the struggling residents and the investors alike.

Personally, I believe it is one of the noblest initiatives to emerge from Washington in years.

I grew up in a sharecropper cabin in what would have been an opportunity zone in Salem, South Carolina. What would an influx of investment dollars have meant to my low-income community? More and better-paying jobs to offset unemployment. People relocating to my town for those jobs, reversing population decline and increasing real estate values. New life breathed into local businesses. The increased tax revenues could have helped improve failing infrastructure. Social challenges, like crime and drug use, could have decreased. Better resources for my family and our neighbors, such as health care and education, would have emerged.

Today, there are nearly 8,800 distressed communities dotting the country that have been identified as Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOZs). These neighborhoods were designated from census tracks, treasury, and state leaders as communities that would benefit from an influx of investment dollars directed through Qualified Opportunity Funds (QOFs) to reinvigorate businesses, rebuild infrastructure and bolster residents.

As our economy continues to falter, more and more businesses file Chapter 11 and unemployment soars under COVID-19, I believe we are heading toward a painful expansion in designated opportunity zones. Even with the latest round of CARES stimulus money many people will have no way to rebound from this crisis.

One of the unexpected consequences of the coronavirus quarantine is that many businesses are discovering that, in reality, they can succeed through working remotely. This success is a double edged sword, meaning that if a business can thrive with employees working offsite then commercial real estate will suffer. And when companies no longer require brick-and-mortar locations, a local domino effect ensues; ancillary businesses, from cafés to gyms to print shops in and around a commercial office environment will subsequently close. The ripples will be felt through many other industries, including construction, transportation, energy, and retail.

Qualified Opportunity Zones and Qualified Opportunity Funds are instruments that can help stop a downward spiral. When a sponsor is able to present a project that meets the objectives of the QOZ initiative, both the QOZ and the investors benefit. That’s a win!

And, it’s not only urban centers that benefit from investment dollars. Forty percent of opportunity zones are rural. Even with often plentiful food, water, energy and other natural resources, deep poverty exists, and too many of America’s 60 million rural residents lack access to education and healthcare. A declining population often goes hand in hand with failing infrastructure as tax money for repairs dwindles. Many households lack broadband, something the vast majority of Americans take for granted.

Despite the challenges, rural residents are often surprisingly resilient and resourceful. According to The Hill (“Rural America has opportunity zones too”), rural residents create self-employment opportunities at a slightly higher rate than the national average. Their challenge is to connect with investors and access funding, more of which is directed to small business investment on the coasts.

In fact, many entrepreneurs and small business owners don’t know about Qualified Opportunity Funds. If a business is located in an opportunity zone it is eligible for direct funding by reaching out to the QOFs with a specific request for funding.

More than any investment plan that’s come before, I believe opportunity zones have the greatest capacity for positive social and economic impact. Spread out over many communities, these investments can help our nation flourish as a whole.

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Business Marketing

Gloves that translate sign language in real time

(BUSINESS MARKETING) A new wearable tech translates American Sign Language into audible English in real time.

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Advancements in technology never cease to amaze. The same is true right this moment as a new technology has been released that helps translate American Sign Language (ASL) signs into spoken English in real time.

This technology comes in the form of a hand glove – similar looking on the front side to what one would wear in the winter, but much more advanced when in view of the palm. The palm side of the glove contains sensors on the wearer to identify each word, phrase, or letter that they form via ASL, and is then translated into audible English via an app that coincides with the glove.

This is all done in real time and allows for instant communication without the need for a human translator. The signals are translated at a rate of one word per second.

The project was developed by scientists at UCLA. “Our hope is that this opens up an easy way for people who use sign language to communicate directly with non-signers without needing someone else to translate for them,” said lead researcher Jun Chen.

The hope is to make communication easier for those who rely on ASL, and to help those unfamiliar with ASL adapt to the signs. It is thought that between 250,000 and 500,000 people in the United States use ASL. As of now, the glove does not translate British Sign Language – the other form a sign language that utilizes English.

According to CNN, the researchers also added adhesive sensors to the faces of people used to test the device — between their eyebrows and on one side of their mouths — to capture facial expressions that are a part of American Sign Language. However, this facet of the technology is not loved by all.

“The tech is redundant because deaf signers already make extensive use of text-to-speech or text translation software on their phones, or simply write with pen and paper, or even gesture clearly,” said Gabrielle Hodge, a deaf post-doctoral researcher from the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre (DCAL) at University College London. “There is nothing wrong with these forms of communication.”

What are your thoughts on this advancement? Comment below!

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