While it’s probably important in those circumstances too, you will find that every savvy business person who have a scheduled meeting with you would have looked at your LinkedIn profile before the meeting! Or when you send an email to someone, or give them a business card…
I know of a prominent procurement officer in Cape Town who receives an email from his PA with links to profiles on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and any other interesting bits she found about a person before he meets with them. This is common practice for any professional these days, so you will find that even your children’s teachers would be “googling” the parents or other family members to find out more about them.
While very little value is given to a Facebook profile where you won’t be able to see much if not befriended by the subject, Facebook is understandably seen as a personal or private networking profile, but the same is not true of LinkedIn. When a potential client (or employer) is faced with an incomplete or inaccurate profile on a professional networking site such as LinkedIn, alarm bells are already ringing as to your suitability to projects or contracts where details, documentation and communication are involved.
Update your LinkedIn profile now, keep the information on it to a minimum if you are only going to use it on the odd occassion, but ensure it’s up to date! Once your profile is up to date and complete, the power of LinkedIn will become more clear to you as you are looking at your friends, colleagues and clients’ profiles and learning things about them you never knew!