Much has been written about LinkedIn profiles and their value to job hunters and sales people, but what about executives. Do you really need to bother?

The answer is yes! And the reason is simple: people – important, highly relevant people – are checking you out. Before they sign that contract, before they agree to hire you, work for you or invest in you, 55% are visiting LinkedIn to learn more about you and the rest of your management team. (Source)

In fact, buyers of professional services – technology, legal, accounting, management consulting, architectural, engineering and construction – now rely heavily on social media to help them make their buying decisions. In a recent study, Hinge Marketing found that on average, buyers consult social media more commonly today than they use formal references.

Why Specifically LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is unique among major social media in that it’s the only network devoted specifically to business people. A host of independent studies, including the Hinge study mentioned above as well as those from Forrester, comScore and the Content Marketing Institute, repeatedly show a substantial preference for LinkedIn among B2B decision makers.

Beyond the Company Page

Chances are good, in today’s business environment, that you have a LinkedIn company page and someone is posting updates at least somewhat regularly. In fact, if you’re not posting on LinkedIn, your company is in the bottom 6% of B2B marketers. (Source)

But a company page is not the same as a personal profile, and regular updates are basically a newsfeed that showcases whatever has been most recently posted. Visitors to your company page see a very limited, and constantly changing bit of content. Also, LinkedIn company pages get far less traffic than personal profiles.

At its core, LinkedIn is a one-to-one network where people go to research and connect with other people. It is the personal profile where they learn about you as an individual; and it’s a collection of personal profiles where they get a sense of who runs the company.

What Are Buyers Looking For?

Imagine you are about to invest a substantial amount of money and trust in a business product or service. The decision could have a major impact on your company or your career. What would you want to know about the people you are about to do business with?

Your relevant audiences are no different. They want to confirm that the individuals they’ll be working with are qualified and experienced in their areas of expertise. But it goes beyond that. They’re also likely ask questions such as: will this company be around long enough to fulfill the contract? Can it continue to evolve to meet my future needs?  For the answers to those questions, they look at the executive team.

Your profile – and the combined profiles of your executive team – need to put the reader’s mind at rest. By providing answers to these and other commonly asked questions, you help remove the naturally occurring, perceived risk of doing business with you.

And while they’re looking for those answers, buyers are also influenced – maybe subconsciously – by how well these profiles mirror the image they have drawn based on input from other sources such as your website, your sales or business development people, the media and other influencers. If the professionalism and messaging on your executive profiles is inconsistent with what your target audience sees elsewhere, trust in you takes a hit.

Dangers of an Online Resume

If you’ve read this far and realize you need to do something about your LinkedIn profile, yay! But a word of caution. LinkedIn provides guidance in the form of a profile wizard to help members build out their profiles. Unfortunately, it was born in the days when LinkedIn was merely a job hunting network.

Follow the wizard and you’ll end up with a pretty good online resume, which can be disastrous for an executive. Not only can it make you look desperate to find a new job, it also introduces doubt into the mind of a decision maker. Why are you so anxious to leave the company? Who will take your place?

A Thoughtful, Professional Brand

How you look online is just as important as how you look offline – sometimes even more so. Just as you think about how you present yourself in person, it’s time to put some effort in how you present yourself online, starting with your LinkedIn profile. A little attention will go a long way.

Need Some Help?

The Conversion Company helped pioneer the use of LinkedIn profiles as a powerful sales and marketing tool, and now we’re doing the same for busy executives and executive teams. If you’d like to find out how we can help you develop and maintain the online persona that’s best for you and your company, just contact us.