Skip to content
Subscriber Only
Katie Benner

How LinkedIn Cracked the Chinese Market

LinkedIn has been successful in China because it's the only foreign Internet company that offers something a Chinese rival just can't replicate.
They're all on LinkedIn.
They're all on LinkedIn.

When I first began teaching English in Beijing almost 15 years ago, I also worked as a copy editor for a few Chinese newspapers. Lots of my students and colleagues dreamed of becoming teachers, entrepreneurs, bankers and consultants. (Yes, you heard that right, some people yearn to be consultants.) They wanted to wield business cards with brands such as Deloitte, Goldman Sachs and Pepsi. So they toiled over adverbs and thought about life outside of state-run companies.

Without fail they asked for introductions to my American business connections, and they were crestfallen when I couldn't help. They wanted desperately to network, and this in an era when a digital, 300-million-strong professional network named LinkedIn didn't yet span the globe. There was just me and other random foreigners who were sometimes in China because we couldn't get jobs at Goldman either.