LinkedIn has announced today that it now has over 100 million users, 56% of which are based outside the US. This is a pretty impressive statistic for a company that started with no real intention of developing an international user base and had initially no defined strategy for achieving that.
The data released by LinkedIn shows that the fastest growing countries in the past year, which were Brazil, Mexico, India and France; Brazil saw a staggering 428% increase and the network now boasts users in over 200 countries worldwide.
So how has this Californian Start-Up achieved such global popularity?
Delegates at the International Search Summit in San Jose on March 11th were lucky enough to hear from one of the co-founders of LinkedIn, Konstantin Guericke. He talked about the reasons he believes LinkedIn has had such broad international appeal.
Ultimately, trust is universally important, everywhere in the world. LinkedIn taps into that by enabling people to build and develop solid relationships with trusted and/or recommended contacts. As business becomes increasingly international, the need for one platform to manage and collate all contacts also grows – and LinkedIn provides just that.
Within days of launching, LinkedIn’s user base was already 50% international. Guericke explained how this wasn’t due to a global marketing effort by LinkedIn, rather was driven by its users – who issued invitations to connect with business contacts across the world. Its growth was organic and natural.
Another reason for LinkedIn’s popularity is its functionality. It is fundamentally a professional network but it is also a great search tool. Whether you are recruiting, looking for partners or suppliers, finding event speakers, researching the competition or seeking a new job, LinkedIn’s search function enables you to conduct detailed searches, which display results for people and companies across the entire world. I personally haven’t come across any other platform that delivers such quality results in such a concise format – and that surely is a huge part of why it continues to grow.
Initially LinkedIn was only available in English – something which didn’t affect its international growth but the interface is now available in multiple languages and offers localised elements such as units of currency and measurements, all designed to improve the user experience. Despite most communications on LinkedIn taking place in English, Guericke recommends creating your profile in different languages, if you can speak them, as it will increase your exposure on the site. If a German user is looking for CEO’s in the automotive industry, it is likely that he will search for “Geschäftsführer” and “Autoindustrie”. By creating multilingual profiles, you are increasing your chances of being found by people with genuine opportunities to offer.
When asked at the International Search Summit whether LinkedIn is likely to evolve into a more social network, with more personal information included, Konstantin said that it intends to remain a purely professional network. To me, that’s good news. Blurring private and professional lives would take the site in another direction, and deter many people from using LinkedIn. As the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”, and its pretty clear that LinkedIn is far from broken.