The technique I mean is where the profile page will say "You have completed 60% of your profile, fill in your x, y and z to get to 100%". I think this is a very powerful technique but I can't remember what it's called so I can't direct my boss to any articles about it. I think it ends in 'bar'.
The ui control or pattern for this is Completeness Meter (See the ui pattern for this). It's sometimes called a Progress Bar, but that term also has a much more generic use - such as in the case of a download percentage, and less specific to the sort of profile completeness you are talking about.
The underlying concept is that of Gradual Engagement. The profile completion percentage is a motivator to increase the amount of information given to the website, but essentially it's all about gradual engagement. Other terms include progressive disclosure but I prefer gradual engagement - especially since the term has stuck thanks to the likes of Luke Wroblewski - see his pages on this topic - and his preso on why sign up forms must die
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It's a good question, as in trying to find an answer for you I'm struggling! :)
Not sure what the "official" term is but I've heard it called "profile completeness" (unsurprisingly).
When trying to sell this idea into clients I like to highlight a couple of things that I see as the key benefits of this approach...
Reducing barrier to entry = more opportunity to start a dialogue with Users
Allows you to gather richer information
Also, on a side note, if you're looking for a comparison piece on the different registration options & when they work, try this article.