This post is part of the 30-Day Bloom Your Online Relationships Challenge. If you’d like to play along, you can sign up here (don’t worry — it’s FREE). We’re all working through these small, powerful actions together and sharing our questions, learnings and experiences in a Facebook group. And we’d love to have you join us!

One of the things the experts tell us to do is get professional photos taken for marketing purposes.

And yes, I agree you need those. (I’m one of those people who will tell you get them.)

But that doesn’t mean you should only show the world the perfect version of you. Or that you should avoid using pictures of yourself altogether (how many people do you know who use something other than their actual photo?).

When we’re connecting with people in person, they get to see us in all our real-life glory.

What you may not realize is that you’re absolutely gorgeous in your imperfection.

Some folks don’t shy away from using real-life pictures — even if they’re not perfect — but if you’re one of those who uses a cute kitten as your avatar (or even the glamour photo you took 10 years ago), it’s time to practice sharing just a teensy bit more of YOU. It’s time for you to switch things up and show us what you look like today.

It might seem strange, but when we’re trying to build our know, like, trust factor online, it’s important to let people see what you really look like. Even if it’s just once in a great while.

That means being brave enough to snap a selfie (or have someone take your picture) without fixing your hair or face first. Without worrying about your double chin, or that blemish on your forehead.

When you share real-life photos, you’re also telling a story.

It might be something funny that happened to you. Or maybe something that gives us a glimpse of your non-professional life.

It could even be something most people don’t know about you yet (like your karaoke habit or your strange collection of nesting dolls).

Whatever it is, you get major bonus points if you’re making eye contact with the camera — as that translates to you making eye contact with those who see your photo.

Remember: eye contact (at least in the Western world) is crucial to how we feel about people. If you want to grow your know-like-trust factor with people, you need to look them in the eye more often.

Here’s one I recently snapped (and shared) as part of a series I’m calling “emoti-selfies”:


As you can see, this is definitely not my most flattering view. (Much MUCH different from the polished and professional version you see on my About Page.)

It tells a story in that it conveys a clear sense of worry, or “oh crap.”

I’ve been using my emoti-selfies in places where I’d normally use an emoticon. You know, instead of :0, I’ll use this photo.

If you normally find yourself throwing out or deleting photos of yourself that are less than perfect, this is going to feel kinda hard.

I get that. It was hard for me at first, too.

And I’m not nearly as shy as a lot of people I know.

But You? You can totally do this.

My challenge to you: 

Share a REAL-Life picture of yourself with us today. Just take a picture wherever you are. Even if you’re at your desk. Let us get a glimpse of the real you.

Extra Credit: Include this image in your next blog post, email, and yes — especially out in the wilds of social media!

How do you feel and what happens as you do this? Any responses? Was it easy for you to do? Hard? No right or wrong answers here — we’re all just experimenting! Come visit us on Facebook  and share.

Image credit: Leyton Parker