Picture Perfect

Earlier in this chapter, you read about how your personality comes through in your typed messages. Now you'll learn how to present the best image of yourself online, which is especially important if you're considering using an Internet dating service.

It's true that you don't have to post your picture on dating Web sites, but if you don't put your mug up on the screen, then you aren't going to attract a lot of attention. In this case, it makes sense to let the cyberspace world see you.

But what if you take a terrible picture and you're afraid that posting your photo or video clip will only do more harm than good? There are plenty of ways to adjust the controls on the pictures, so to speak, and still come out looking like yourself.

Angle, lighting, and the color of the room around you can all play a part in making you look fab or freakish. People with pale skin, prominent features, or very thin or very round faces tend to suffer the heartbreak of bad pictures.

If you're terrified of how your image might turn out, consider hiring a professional to take your picture. If you don't want to spend the money on headshots, there are a few precautions you can take at home:

  • Choose clothing that complements your complexion, giving you a glow. Whether it's red, periwinkle, purple, or green, wear it in your picture or video clip.

  • Find the right angle. If you have a large nose, for example, have your picture taken at a downward angle. Film your clip from a straight-on angle. This won't eliminate it, but it will help to de-emphasize it.

  • Use natural light if possible. It's flattering to most skin types. (Pale people, especially, don't photograph well in fluorescent lighting.)

  • Smile. A genuine grin is your best asset when trying to attract quality attention.

  • Once you've got the angle and lighting covered, you can focus on putting a little body language on display. Do you want to appear:

  • Sultry? Pout those lips a bit and angle your head down or to the side.

  • Innocent? Widen your eyes and show off your great big smile.

  • Cool? Tilt your head back a little, lower your eyelids a smidge, and pout your lips.

  • Fun? Big, open-mouthed smile, as though you're laughing.

  • No matter which direction you go in, try to keep your expression as natural as possible. The camera will catch your vibe; there's no need to overdo it.

    Ta-da! You've produced an image that captures the essence of who you truly are, and whether your potential suitors realize it or not, what they'll be responding to is your nonverbal gestures.

    Video Star

    Video-sharing Web sites (like YouTube) are hugely popular because they allow you to share clips with friends and family who can be next door or halfway around the world. After you download your own video, you can click around and watch the presentations submitted by complete strangers. Some are amusing, some are disturbing, but there's one thing they all have in common: they're out there — for the rest of eternity, as far as anyone knows. The moral of the story: before you post any video (or picture, for that matter) online, make sure you're okay with the idea of its never-ending circulation — even if you're not putting it in a public domain.

    Sneak Peek for Employers

    Online resumes are sometimes used to screen candidates for job openings before a company invites them for a sit-down interview. In this type of video, you have a great opportunity to express your confidence and enthusiasm for the position. Follow the tips you read earlier for perfecting your image, and then bring your business body language into the picture: make eye contact with the camera, sit up straight, smile every now and then, and make sure you're not displaying any signs of nervousness (nervous shifting in your seat, for example, or clasping your hands too tightly, or touching your face).

    Digital videos are a wonderful way to show your body language to someone you're interested in, but they're easily copied and forwarded around the Internet. Don't put anything out there that you want kept private.

    If you have the chance to send this type of resume to a prospective employer, think of it as a gift — you have the chance to edit your first impression! Once you get that invitation for a real interview, you can feel confident that someone in Human Resources liked what she saw in your video, and that will help you project your self-assurance in person.

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