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'Fish where the fish are'

'Fish where the fish are'

LinkedIn MD and VP for Asia Pacific Arvind Rajan talks about the art of targeting 'passive' talent.

The world's largest professional network with more than 100 million members, LinkedIn opened its Asia Pacific HQ in Singapore just last month. We caught up with the man heading it, Arvind Rajan, for a private chat. The newly anointed LinkedIn MD and VP for Asia Pacific and Japan, shared with us his thoughts on the needs of the market that his network's offerings serve and what developments he expects to drive in the near future.

Why do you think LinkedIn is becoming so popular in Asia?

Arvind Rajan: We're excited about the growth we've experienced in APAC over the past year; according to ComScore, our visitors were up 132 percent from March 2010 to March 2011. We now have over 18 million members in the region.

However, this isn't a new phenomenon. Back in 2009, we began seeing early signs of accelerating growth in APAC, and we decided to establish offices in India and Australia, ahead of any other overseas markets except for the UK.

Professionals in Asia are joining LinkedIn for the similar reasons as professionals in the rest of the world. Through LinkedIn, they are managing their professional brand online, building and leveraging their professional network, and gaining business opportunities and insights.

Economies are booming across Asia, and demand for skilled talent is on the rise. Hiring sentiment amongst companies is strong, but conversely the ability to find skilled talent and retain staff is a major concern. For recruiters, LinkedIn connects talent with opportunity at massive scale. It allows them to fish where the fish are by targeting 'passive' talent--those professionals who are currently employed who may not be actively seeking a new job opportunity, but might be the best suited for key roles.

Your readers are probably familiar with how LinkedIn can help professionals find new jobs or business opportunities, but perhaps they are less aware of how they can use LinkedIn to get essential business insights, so let me touch on a couple of examples.

Professionals are increasingly being exposed to so much content on a daily basis that it is becoming increasingly difficult to sift through the noise to get to what is truly important. This is the reason that we introduced 'Signal' and 'Today'--two products that enable busy professionals to extract real-time insights from the large stream of information shared by their network of trusted connections.

LinkedIn Signal makes it easy for professionals to make sense of the never-ending stream of status updates and news shared by others in the network. Professionals can discover relevant information they are interested in through dynamic filters, searches and trending topics.

LinkedIn Today in beta is a new product that surfaces the top headlines and stories being shared the most often by LinkedIn's trusted network of professionals. It offers a customised and tailored way to consume the top trending news relevant to a particular industry by determining what is being shared the most frequently by those industry professionals.

When LinkedIn launched its IPO on 19 May this year, its valuation and share price surged. What does it mean for LinkedIn? What is the reason for this kind of investor confidence in your company?

The IPO was a major milestone for LinkedIn, but it was just one step in our journey. Our mission is to connect the world's professionals; we have over 100 million members, but there are over 640 million professionals in the world, so we like to think that we are just getting started.

We remain focused on creating the best, most valuable experience for our millions of members around the world, the brand marketers who want to reach them, and the recruiters who are looking to hire the best talent.

In Asia Pacific, is LinkedIn being used more in some particular verticals than in other verticals or industries? What does your usage pattern indicate?

We now have over half a million members here in Singapore--close to half of Singapore's professional labour force. Locally, the top three industry sectors by member size are information technology & services, banking, and financial services.

That isn't particularly surprising; particularly in Singapore, these are industries where professionals tend to interact with colleagues around the world, and where the global nature of LinkedIn is invaluable. However, LinkedIn's membership is remarkably diverse. You can find ballet dancers, mental health professionals, academics, journalists...pretty much any industry you can think of.

How can enterprises leverage the power of LinkedIn in their operations?

LinkedIn is the world's largest professional network and offers a great platform for businesses to engage with the professional community.

Businesses can create a Company Page, which acts as a central hub for their brand. Through the LinkedIn Company Page, they can manage all facets of their brand, with tabs for information about their company, employment opportunities and products/services. Now more than ever, jobseekers, employees, investors, current and prospective customers are looking to their networks for trusted company and product recommendations. Company Pages empowers businesses to seek recommendations from their satisfied customers for their products/services, which can result in viral new business growth as the recommendations are shared across the network. More than two million businesses have established their Company Page on LinkedIn.

Businesses can take advantage of LinkedIn's marketing solutions to target their messages to the right person at the right time. With over 100 million members following more than 2 million companies and joining over 900,000 groups, LinkedIn offers the ability to precisely target the world's most affluent and influential professionals.

A major challenge for companies is finding high quality candidates quickly. They can rely on LinkedIn's talent pool to connect with highly skilled passive candidates. LinkedIn 'Recruiter' is a cost-effective enterprise licensing solution for recruiters to attract, screen, source and engage with candidates. LinkedIn Recruiter offers powerful search and communication tools to identify and reach professionals. It has also built-in collaboration tools that enable enterprises to share project information and organise workflow. Companies can use LinkedIn Recruiter to create a talent pipeline of skilled future candidates.

Where do you see LinkedIn five years from now?

We are focused on connecting Talent with Opportunity at a massive scale. We are constantly working towards delivering a unique and valuable experience for all our users--whether it's a professional looking for better career or business opportunities, an advertiser looking to target a successful and influential professional demographic, or a recruiter looking for the best candidate.

We will continue to invest in developing new products and tools that enable professionals to connect, engage and gain insights from their network. We want professionals to use LinkedIn to manage their professional brand wherever they work. MIS Asia

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