LinkedIn focuses on enhancement, education to drive APAC growth

To drive growth in Asia, the professional social networking site will focus on raising the experience of current users, who may then influence their peers to join the platform.

SINGAPORE--LinkedIn is planning a bigger push in Asia-Pacific to enhance and educate users' experience of their own professional profile and engagement, in hopes this will help boost user and revenue growth in the region.

Hari V Krishnan, the new managing director of Asia-Pacific and Japan at LinkedIn, said in an interview Tuesday, the company's revenue and growth strategy works by building upon and serving its existing network of professionals, rather than constantly trying to attract new users.

Now based in Singapore, which is LinkedIn's Asia-Pacific headquarters, Krishnan was previously country manager for India when he joined the company in 2009, and was its first employee hired in Asia. Krishnan takes over Arvind Rajan, who is now managing director and vice president for new markets at LinkedIn.

According to Krishnan, LinkedIn members have raised the bar on expectations of the professional online networking site. So focusing on providing the best value and experience for a user's "living document" or professional profile on the site is crucial. Users are then more likely to influence peers to join and connect with them on the platform--and that is how the site and its value really grows, he explained.

Instead of growth in terms of geographical reach, the key is to "get growth by focusing on fewer territories and get the most output [from them], having our teams and our users work closely together amongst and between them", the managing director highlighted.

Asia currently accounts for 37 million out of 187 LinkedIn million members worldwide, Krishnan said.

Krishnan expressed he was bullish about how well Singapore and the Asia-Pacific region will perform in 2013. He noted that LinkedIn's third quarter ended Sep. 30 last year saw revenue of US$252 million of which Asia contributed 7 percent--up from 5 percent back in 2010. The company currently has 10 offices across Asia-Pacific, in India, Australia, Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong.

He added this year, the "member-first" strategy will put greater emphasis on improving user education so they know how get the most out of various new features that were rolled out last year, such as peer endorsements and the tablet-optimized iPad application.

"The burden falls on us to educate [users]", the executive said. Users should be enabled to not just be savvy with LinkedIn's features, but know how to raise their own professional profile and stand out consistently. He said LinkedIn will continue to develop ways to connect users with respective industry thought leaders and discover more insights. One example is the company's influencers program, which was launched last October, and allows users to follow influential personalities such as Richard Branson, even if users are not professionally connected to them in their network.

Trend studies and sharing content are also part of the picture.

Referring to a company survey last December which ranked the most overused self-descriptive words by LinkedIn members, Krishnan noted these are not about dissuading or persuading users. It is ultimately users' own call on how they decide to represent themselves, but considering the employment market is a competitive one, their decision-making should be well-informed so they can "put [their] best profile forward".

After all, LinkedIn is increasingly becoming a venue for passive talent recruitment , Krishnan added. "The people [a company ] wants are the people who are successful, happy and not actively looking for a new job."


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