Linkedin clones in China still fail to gain solid popularity. Many formal reasons are: need more time to develop; C level executives in China are not digital savvy; business connections often reply on nepotism or “word of mouth” introduction. All well stated, nevertheless I would like to offer a “grass-root” Chinese perspective that my personal Linkedin usage no longer can excite further interests in similar business SNS. I mean you have to at least fall in love with the original idea first before extending interests to try out the copycats.

Chart 1: Registered users of Chinese BSNS

Were it not for the request from my former boss, I would not have bothered opening a Linkedin account for myself as I sensed it is more an online social environment for high executives, investors, head hunters, or at least someone in a decision-making position.

I mainly use Linkedin to randomly connect some business professionals in certain industry whom I would need invite to the events or conferences organized by my company. I often need to send out vast amount of connection invitations at first, and the successful rate of accepting my invitation is around 40%. The higher the Linkedin profile a targeted person has, the higher the probability I would be rejected, make sense. Once connected, I had to “cold email” those new connections to announce my event, and among them who eventually participated (if free of charge) would be down to 20%.

If not for my duty of inviting attendees for my company event, I never feel the urge of taking the initiative of connecting to anyone. Currently I have 237 connections on Linkedin, however except my colleagues and bosses, I only can count 5 people whom I value as my true “profession connection”.

Additionally I have the experience of fostering a Linkedin group for my company. There are numerous such groups on it and quite often all the messages and blogs which I take pains to post are soon buried in the flood of other information feeds. I started to maintain this group since September 2011 and so far it just has 642 members. The funny thing is my group members never seem to be active in making heated comments or discussions. I perceive any group on Linkedin is like an open party, and as long as you do not have key opinion leaders or influential figures there, it just feels cheerless, cold and empty.

Therefore after everything I have been going through on Linkedin, I consider my relation with Linkedin is rather emotionally dead. It is a relation I am trying so hard but somehow it just will not go any direction.

The China Reflection

In China, current top 3 Linkedin-like BSNS ranked by registered users are Tianji, Dajie, and Ruolin. I also have a personal account on Tianji, but act as a “Zombie”. The user experience on Tianji is far worse than Linkedin. Some interest groups there are filled with individual direct advertising or meaningless discussions. Recruitment opportunities are also very limited.

In conclusion, if my relation with Linkedin seems dead, and Tianji fails to make any sense to me, then no wonder BSNS encountered a rather awkward situation in China, at least for people like me. On top of that, I noticed Sina Weibo has gradually taken on some functions of BSNS. I at least got to connect with some very good professionals and also the impact of weibo recruiting can be very powerful sometimes. Of course personal view does not represent the bulk, but who knows maybe many out there share the same feeling. So is it possible that Sina might come into play in the field of BSNS, employing its incumbent social connections to its advantage and fostering a new form of Weibo-based BSNS for Chinese employee? We’ll see.

Image credit: WeAreSocial

Cecilia Wu is a contributor for Technode based in Shanghai who currently works as a market analyst for L’Atelier BNP Paribas. She is profoundly interested in internet related business & startups...

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  1. You can build an office building in 6 months but it takes YEARS to make an executive. (And many office buildings are still empty). China is still young to the modern world. It’s white collar workforce is still small relative to it’s population. Give it some time.

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