Cultural challenges with LinkedIn

LinkedIn, more than any other business networking site has a truly global reach. There are now over 60 million users throughout the world and this is growing by a staggering 2 million every month (LinkedIn claim that a new user signs up every second).

LinkedIn can be used for many different purposes (finding a job, finding new employees, market research and business development to name a few) but it is essentially a networking tool. Mastering visibility through effective networking techniques is key to success with LinkedIn (whatever your objectives) but there are increasing challenges presented by the international and multicultural nature of this network.

I was reminded of this fact recently over a coffee with Jacco Valkenburg when we met in London. Jacco asked me how a Recruiter in the UK would react if they saw that a potential target candidate hadn’t ticked the ‘career opportunities’ box in their ‘interested in’ section (at the bottom of their profile).

My answer was very clear – they would ignore it and approach the candidate anyway! Jacco was clearly surprised and stated that in the Netherlands this was considered to be poor practice and that if a user had not ticked this then they should be left alone. My argument was that this tick box is only ever noticed when someone first opens their account and that could have been years ago so how do we know it is still accurate?

The reality though is that this is less a practical issue of whether the information is correct and more a cultural issue. In the UK users would rarely have an issue with being approached in these circumstances but in the Netherlands they would mostly find this inappropriate.

This got me thinking about how we deal with cross cultural issues on LinkedIn. Another example is the connection invitation (see below).

If you are inviting someone you don’t personally know (and lets face it most users do at some point) what reason do you select on the invitation? I have noticed that most invitations I get from the US state that they are my ‘friend’ which in the UK and possibly throughout Europe may appear to be somewhat rude and presumptuous, I also get plenty of ‘friend’ invitations from India – the difference with Indian ones is that they never take the time to write a personal note whereas most Americans tend to write something and as a result I accept more of them.

What cultural differences have you noticed on LinkedIn?

It would be great to hear from users across different cultures and could this help us all be more successful in the way we network internationally.

By Mark Williams (Mr LinkedIn)

UK based Independent LinkedIn Trainer

ETN Training

About Jacco Valkenburg

Jacco Valkenburg is an international recruitment expert, trainer and author (5 books). He has more than 20 years experience in global recruitment strategies and execution spanning numerous countries for leading companies. As founder of Recruiter University and Recruit2 he provides companies with recruitment training and consultancy. His mission is helping companies ‘from good to great staffing’.

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