Interview with Nishant Rao, managing director, LinkedIn India

Suparna Goswami Bhattacharya

December 2,2014: Since establishing itself 11 years ago, the journey for LinkedIn has been nothing short of a dream. Though US and India continue to be the largest markets for the business-oriented social networking site, it continues to explore other emerging economies. This year, it entered China, one of the toughest markets. Nishant Rao, managing director, LinkedIn India, spoke to IFM about the company’s plans for other markets. Excerpts:

Tell us your journey since inception in 2003.

Over the last several years, LinkedIn has established itself as the definitive professional network with 313+ million members, which means that more than half of all professionals worldwide are already using our platform. This staggering growth rate is playing out not just in our early markets like the US but across most markets. For example, India is one of the fastest growing markets for LinkedIn. We started off with 3.4 million members in late 2009 and today we have over 28+million members in India, a net increase of over 700% over the last few years.

Which are the countries in which you see maximum traction? Could you please share some data points?

We are fortunate to see growth continue to increase in emerging markets at a high rate (India with over 28 million members is our second largest market globally). We also continue to see traction in our more developed markets (US is our largest market with over 100 million members) in the form of increase in page views and members diversifying usage of features to explore different aspects of the platform. In the APAC region, India is the largest with over 28million+ members, followed by Australia (6million+), China (5million+), Indonesia (3million+), Philippines (2million+) and Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and New Zealand (1 million+ each).

Your entry into China has been phenomenal especially since other internet giants have struggled to get through strict Chinese rules and regulations. How did you manage to do it? What were the changes you had to make in your strategy to enter that market?

Given our vision of creating economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce, China & India are strategically important markets for us since they contain 1/5th& 1/6th respectively of the world’s professionals. Specific to China, we have taken our time to develop a thoughtful approach to enter the market and serve our members there and connect them to our global member base. LinkedIn expanded its presence in China by launching a beta version of the new Simplified Chinese site in February 2014 to offer a more localised service to LinkedIn members in China. The launch of this beta version of LinkedIn in Simplified Chinese is part of our commitment to create locally relevant products so professionals can get even more value from LinkedIn.

What has been the response so far?

With 5million+ users, China has quickly become one of the fastest growing markets for LinkedIn. The new website will broaden our reach among the country’s 140 million professionals who currently represent roughly one in five of the world’s knowledge workers. Our goal is to connect these Chinese professionals with each other and with the rest of LinkedIn’s 313 million+ members in over 200 countries and territories.

Which are the other developing markets that hold good prospects for LinkedIn?

We are 313 million+ members globally, out of which 67% are from outside the US. The APAC is an important region for us as 40% of the world’s professionals are in this part of the world. Connecting professionals here at APAC (currently 56 million+) will go a long way towards achieving our vision of creating economic opportunities for all professionals in the world.

You recently released college ranking? What were the reasons behind it? Is it an attempt to reach out to more youth?

There are over 40 million students and recent college graduates on LinkedIn. They are LinkedIn’s fastest-growing demographic. By helping students get their first steps right towards building a professional brand and making more informed career choices, they will be more likely to make a smooth transition from being a student to a professional. From the time they pick up their first college brochure, till the moment they complete their studies and shift their focus to getting their first job, we become a single platform that grows with them and arms them with relevant tools to establish an identity, network and knowledge to make them successful.

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