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Social media: a recognizable profile image helps

I have a persistent aspiring Facebook friend. I get regular “friend requests” from him, and I always click “ignore,” but in another day or two, or a week, he’s back. I’ve started clicking the “I don’t know this person” link, but that doesn’t seem to be helping.

Now, I’m not terribly good with names, and in my track-writing career I meet a lot of people who I don’t see enough for their names to stick. It’s entirely possible that I actually do know this person. We have four or five friends “in common” but they are all people I would consider public figures in the sport (i.e. significantly bigger names than me, coaches or broadcasters) with hundreds if not thousands of Facebook “friends”, so I can’t learn anything there.

The compounding problem is his profile photo, which is simply a photo of the infield of a track. I don’t even recognize which track, so it must be a stadium I haven’t visited. I certainly can’t pick out individual people in the photo. He might as well have put up a red-and-orange “Stand with Haiti” badge, which would tell me just as much about who he is.

So my suggestion is this: If you’re going to send friend requests to people who may reasonably have difficulty remembering that they met you, make sure your profile photo actually shows you somewhere. It doesn’t have to be a photo - I have at least two Facebook friends whose profile photos are illustrations, but when I saw them I thought, “Yup, I remember so-and-so.” The photo is certainly part of your communication and your presentation, but sometimes it’s the only part visible, and you should make sure you give it the tools to do what you ask of it.

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