How to Grow Your LinkedIn Network in China, from a Labs Member Who's Done It

LinkedIn can be a powerful tool to help you grow your professional network, but the way it’s used, and best practices for use, can vary by country. Marian Danko, founder of China Classifieds and Labs member at Nanjing Xi Lu in Shanghai, successfully grew his LinkedIn network from 1,000 to 12,000 people within the past year. Danko recently put together a panel discussion on how to use LinkedIn to grow your network and boost your business in China. Here are some key points to remember.

Tip 1: Don’t overlook the basics

“I receive a lot of requests to connect on LinkedIn, and I often select ‘ignore,’” Danko says. Why? “Because there’s no picture, title, or summary. So what’s the point?” These are essential elements of your LinkedIn profile, but since LinkedIn use is still a work in progress in China, many users don’t take the time to optimize them, or include them at all.

Photo - “Your photo should be professional. Don’t use a photo of your dog. I want to see your face. Don’t use a photo that has other people in it, because I don’t know which one is you,” Danko says. “It seems like a small thing but it's very important. People will ignore your request to connect if you don’t have a photo or the right photo. They’ll think, ‘If this person couldn’t spend the time to upload the right picture, then what’s their intention in connecting?’”

Title - Think about the search function on LinkedIn when you’re creating your title. “On the website, it shows about 32 characters, but it can be longer on the app,” Danko says. “The more keywords you include in your title, the easier it is to be found. Remember that people don’t just search by name—they search by job title.”

Summary - “Most people just put their company description there, and it doesn’t work for building connections,” Danko says. “People want to see the story behind it, to see where you came from, what you’re working on, and what your passions and motivation are. It’s very important. This section holds up to 2000 characters and it should be filled in.”

Tip 2: Create an English page and a Chinese page to broaden your potential connections

When you’re trying to connect with both English speakers and Chinese or Mandarin speakers, it’s smart to create profile pages for yourself in both languages. “People still don't know that you can create two pages. You could also create a bilingual page with both English and Chinese characters for each section of your profile,” Danko says.

Tip 3: Leverage the WeChat integration for faster responses

In China, you can link your LinkedIn account to your WeChat account. “Then when I open up your profile, I click on WeChat, I see the QR code, I scan, and I reach you directly,” Danko says.

“On the website, you need to be a first connection to see the WeChat QR code. If you're not a first connection, you’ll see that someone has WeChat, but you won’t see the QR code. But if you go to the app, even if you are second or third connection, you still can see the QR code. The response is much faster connecting through WeChat. People aren’t in the habit of checking LinkedIn every day, but WeChat is 24/7 here in China, and people usually reply because it feels more personal.”

Tip 4: Send requests to connect on the website, not the mobile app

“If you send requests to connect on the website, you can include a personal message with the request,” Danko says. “When you do it on the app, the request sends without the option to add a message. If you just starting out and nobody knows you, it's super important to include a message. People are more likely to accept your request when there’s a message about why they’re adding, or something you have in common.”

For more tips and information on growing your personal and company brands on LinkedIn, check out these two articles:

Building Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn Can Fuel Your Company’s Growth—Here’s How To Do It

How to Create a Strong Company Presence on LinkedIn, According to a LinkedIn Expert

This post is based on content from a WeWork Labs programming session.

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