Potential customers now assess your brand based on your LinkedIn profile rather than your website.
When most entrepreneurs think about brand-building, they assume that the best way to build a brand is to have a professional-looking website. However, websites are getting less important every day, especially for smaller firms.
First, corporate websites are getting less important every day because anybody can buy a fancy website and populate it with highfalutin' business talk. And everybody knows that such sites come pretty cheap.
Second, when customers buy from smaller firms, the people who stand behind the firm's offerings are often more important than the offerings themselves. Big firms typically have a public track record that creates their brand; smaller firms have, well, people like you and the people who work for you.
In other words, your "brand" is increasingly based upon how you present yourself (and the people you work with) on public forums in the Internet. And that's why LinkedIn is so damn important.
Why LinkedIn Matters
While you may have a bio posted on your website, your customers get (or should get) a better perspective of whom they're buying from when they check out your LinkedIn profiles.
Customers will look not just at your experience, but also your relationships: who has endorsed you, who has worked with you, what people have said about you, and the type of people who are in your network.
None of that information is on your website–and, if it were, it would look phony anyway. The simple truth is that, while you have some control over your LinkedIn profile, it's widely perceived (correctly, I think) as being more objective than a corporate website.
Smart entrepreneurs realize that LinkedIn and other social networks can be more important than their websites–and therefore deserve as much, or more, serious attention.
Step by Step
With that in mind, here's a step-by-step process for turning your LinkedIn profile into a brand-builder:
1. Choose a customer-focused message. Many entrepreneurs tend to think from the inside out: This is our product, here are its features. Instead, think from the outside in: Our customers buy from us in order to achieve this goal.
2. Reframe your experience to fit the message. Rather than treating your LinkedIn profile as an autobiography of your working life, treat it as a way to show why your experience makes you a credible supplier of whatever you're selling.