LinkedIn explores opportunities in China

The company hopes to tap China's user base of 100 million working professionals

LinkedIn is exploring opportunities in China, a market with 100 million working professionals that the business networking site believes it can attract, according to the company's vice president Arvind Rajan.

The U.S. company is in the early stages of developing a strategy for China, and has yet to consider any possible partnerships. "We are quite intrigued by the opportunities in China," Rajan told the CHINICT tech conference in Beijing on Thursday. "At the same time, we want to be quite cautious with how we approach the market."

LinkedIn's business networking site allows professionals to connect one another. More than 1 million of LinkedIn's 100 million users come from China, Rajan said, even though the site is not available in the Chinese language.

"We hear from our members globally every day, 'When are we going to be bigger in China?' They want to do more business in China. They want to hire people in China," Rajan said. "We also hear from Chinese companies that they want to hire people on a global basis."

Rajan said he will be talking with Chinese companies while visiting the country, to learn more about the market and what role LinkedIn can play.

"In China, everything is big," he said, speaking on the sidelines of the CHINICT conference. "The market is big, but the challenges are also big."

Some of those challenges include the intense competition from other Chinese firms, as well as the high expectations of Chinese Internet users. Rajan also pointed to the "political filtering" on the country's Internet. China's government routinely censors content on the Web deemed politically sensitive, blocking foreign sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

In February, China's Internet censors also temporarily blocked LinkedIn. The move was tied to Chinese government efforts to suppress mention of an anonymous online protest call made on the site, according to analysts.

The Chinese market for professional social networking sites is still small, according to Mark Natkin, managing director Beijing-based Marbridge Consulting. The major challenge is getting Chinese users comfortable with networking online, since many prefer to do it in face-to-face interactions. But with 1 million users already in China, LinkedIn has a "toehold" in the country that it can leverage, he said. "But if it waits too long, it will miss its opportunity," Natkin added.

A LinkedIn rival, French company Viadeo, is already tapping the Chinese market through local partner. Tianji.com opened in 2005, and claims to be the largest professional social networking site in China with 6 million users.

But it's only recently that Chinese people have started to view the Web as a business networking tool, according to the company's CEO, Derek Ling. "It's taken professionals a while to get used to the idea of using this service. But now we are actually seeing a turning point in China," he said.

That turning point is the result of other Chinese Facebook-like sites gaining popularity in the country, giving users exposure to how social networking services can work. These sites, however, mainly became popular from the games and entertainment offered, Ling said.

"But then after gaming what happens?" he asked. "I think people are finally looking for real value in social networks. This is where professional networks can really pick up in China."

Tianji.com aims to serve that "real value" by providing ways for users to advance their careers and learn about business opportunities. But to do so, the company has had to confront certain cultural differences. For instance, Chinese users are turned off when offered a business proposition, without first getting to know the other party, Ling said. To accommodate this, the site has introduced features to promote interaction, like the ability to create groups, or to "poke" other members to get their attention.

"In the last couple of years, people were also uncomfortable with putting their real identity online. That's probably been one of our biggest hurdles," Ling said. But this has begun to change as more Chinese users have grown familiar with social networking sites and how they can be used.

"I think in the next one or two years, it will be very exciting for us," he said. "The whole social networking stage in China has been popularized."

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags internetLinkedInbusiness issuessocial networkinginvestmentsMergers / acquisitionsInternet-based applications and services

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Kan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?