India contributes significantly to LinkedIn success story

With India’s top companies increasingly searching for talent on LinkedIn, and just 18 million of India’s 80 million workforce on LinkedIn, there is huge potential for the professional networking company to grow in its number two market

While companies are just beginning to talk about green shoots, professional social network company LinkedIn has been growing steadily in recessionary times. In fact LinkedIn is one of the companies to watch on the New York Stock Exchange — it beat analyst estimates for the seventh quarter in a row, and doubled its share price in the past 12 months. It has over 200 million members worldwide, adding two every second. In terms of subscribers, India is the second largest market for LinkedIn (behind the US) with over 18 million members from the sub-continent (a 400 percent growth over three years).

LinkedIn launched operations in India in 2009 and had 3.4 million members back then. Today it has three separate streams of revenue — which even Facebook and Twitter do not match. In appreciation for this stellar performance, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner recently gave away an iPad Mini to every employee. During a recent briefing with the LinkedIn India leadership, InformationWeek India probed the reasons behind this success (and no, it is not because individuals are logging in to LinkedIn to publish their resumes).

“About 64 percent of our membership comes from outside the US, so that gives a sense of where our members are,” said Nishant K. Rao, Country Manager, LinkedIn India.

LinkedIn does not share the region-wise breakup of revenue, but a significant portion of its global revenue comes from India. For Talent Solutions (the highest revenue earner), it bagged big ticket clients such as HCL, Wipro, American Express, BioCon, Volkswagon India, and Genpact. Talent solutions contribute to 53 percent to its global revenues, growing 90 percent year on year. According to Rao, companies like HCL Technologies hire 90 percent of its key employees through LinkedIn.

The other two streams of revenues are premium subscriptions (20 percent revenue) and marketing solutions (27 percent revenue). LinkedIn sees a 70 percent annual growth in premium subscriptions and 68 percent growth in marketing solutions.

“India is one of the more strategic markets for LinkedIn. In fact our first APAC office was in India. We now have over 200 people across four offices here,” informed Rao.

LinkedIn India has invested in engineering (R&D), operations, customer service & support, and sales & marketing.

In recent months LinkedIn made significant interface changes, withdrawing features like LinkedIn Answers and introduced new ones like LinkedIn Today (news), and updated features like Profiles. It has also turned its attention to mobile, launching its LinkedIn app for the iPad and smartphones.

“There has been a 3x increase in mobile traffic, which is now 27 percent of our (overall) traffic; that means our members are using us on the go,” informed Rao.

By certain industry estimates, India has 80 – 85 million professionals, out of which 18 million are on LinkedIn. So there is much scope for LinkedIn in India.

LinkedIn’s mission is to connect the world’s professionals and make them more productive and successful. And it does this through three tenets: Identity, Insights and Everywhere. Identity is about allowing members to connect, find others, and be found.

“We do 5.5 billion professionally oriented search queries on LinkedIn every year,” informed Rao. “LinkedIn is now your address book on the cloud. You don’t need a Rolodex, and you don’t need to manage all your business cards.”
One of the features that’s drawing more users to LinkedIn is Insights. This allows members to manage their professional identities online. And companies and universities scan LinkedIn profiles and analyze professional identities. So this is making resumes passé. When members log into LinkedIn they get insights about others on their network, the companies they follow, the people who look at their profiles, the latest news, and posts from influential bloggers like Richard Branson.

Contradictory to popular belief, jobs is not the main reason for people to join LinkedIn. According to Irfan Abdulla, Director – Talent Solutions, LinkedIn India, an internal survey revealed that job search is the fifth reason for being on LinkedIn.

“People are no longer updating their profile just because they are looking for work,” said Rao. “Rather, they value what they get in terms of Insights and this means they need an updated profile to get those relevant insights. That has been a game-changer for us.”