It is a fact that people are more likely to respond to a person's profile online and in social media when there is an engaging and interesting portrait of the person on the site.
I recently had a University Researcher come in for her headshots, and she noticed that straight after supplying her professional headshot, the level of interest in her published articles skyrocketed in just a couple of days. Admittedly, she was using the generic profile avatar (an anonymous head) before, so a headshot would have been a monumental improvement. No one engages with a stand-in image and using this can convey a lack of professionalism or a lack of engagement with the public, or your audience.
Also, she is my sister and has always been incredibly camera shy. Like most people she doesn't jump with joy at the idea of having her photograph taken, and has always actively avoided having her portrait taken. Hence the anonymous stand-in. But she reluctantly came in for her headshots, claiming the University was going to kick her out if they didn't have something they could use on their various professional and internal sites. They had offered their in-house photographer for the job, which she politely declined after having seen the results her colleagues had to contend with. Also..her sister is a professional headshot photographer after all.
She decided to also book someone to do her hair and makeup, and loved the feeling of being pampered. She also understood (well she is an academic) that knowing she was looking her best would boost her confidence for the session.
We kept her look very natural and authentic, and her choices of tops were well considered for the academic use the shots would have - not too 'business-y' but not too casual.
Besides the report that her visibility amongst her professional peers had been boosted, and the fact that she could track the increase in traffic and interest in her publications, I am most pleased that she enjoyed the shoot as well as the outcomes. She says it's great to have headshots on-hand and available to send through for conferences, grant applications, internal HR, University website profiles etc. She has also used her headshot for her LinkedIn profile. She hadn't realised just how useful they would be in both the short and long term. I'm also pleased that we got to have a good ol' sisterly catch-up during working hours - bonus.