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Build Your Network & Expand Your Visibility Globally with Viadeo, ApnaCircle & Tianji

It's not a secret that your network is one of your most important tools in your job search - be it at home or abroad. Those looking to build their career or find a job locally have the ability to attend local meetings and engage with people in person to build their network to support their goals.

However most people looking to build an international career or find work abroad don't have that luxury. Hence building your network online is a critical part of any international career acceleration or job search plan. This is why I am writing to share information with you about a top international online professional network you may not be aware of - Viadeo.

Founded in 2004, Viadeo is the second largest online professional social network in the world with over 40 million members in 226 countries. With offices and teams in 12 cities around the globe and the addition of more than 30,000 new members each day, they’re expanding their size and reach at a very rapid pace. 

Branded as ApnaCircle on the Indian sub-continent and as Tianji in China, Viadeo has taken a local approach to professional networking. By recognizing that networking styles are not universal across cultures, each network's features allows you to expand your network as well as develop an online presence in a more culturally relevant way. 

Because companies in emerging markets like India and China are actively seeking talent outside of their borders given the lack of necessary skill sets at home, Viadeo‘s large member bases in these countries could be an extremely powerful tool for those looking for jobs in those areas of the world. 

But Viadeo’s membership is truly global. It has 16.5 million members in the Americas, 3.3 in Mexico and 3.5 in Brazil. They have 9 million members in Europe, 2 in Africa, 3.5 in India, 9 in China and 12.5 million in Asia.
Due to the value they offer the international job seeker, I’ve reached out to Pete Crosby, Viadeo Group’s Chief Sales Officer, and asked him to share some information about how Viadeo's networks can support those looking to build international careers and businesses.

  • Many thanks for agreeing to spend time sharing information with this blog’s readers. Can you tell us about how Viadeo started?

    Viadeo was founded in Paris in 2004 by Dan Serfaty and Thierry Lunati. They were members of a networking club which bought together entrepreneurs to meet on a regular basis in a hotel room to swap ideas and knowledge and also to invest in each other’s’ companies. At one point the club got too big to fit into the hotel room and also members were interested in keeping in touch between meetings so Dan and Thierry created an online professional social network to meet this need. Now, eight years later, Viadeo has offices and teams in 12 countries and a membership of 40 million professionals.
  • How is Viadeo's network designed to help professionals, executives and business owners build their personal brand and global network as well as find new career and business opportunities?

    As a professional social network, Viadeo helps its 40 million members worldwide:

    *Increase their business opportunities - discover new clients, staff and business partners
    *Enhance their visibility, their online reputation and find a job
    *Manage and develop their network of professional contacts

    Depending on your status and depending of your targets, you may have different strategies to achieve your goals.

    For instance, if you are an entrepreneur and if you want to increase business opportunities, you are going to use your presence on the social network to connect with prospects and partners. You will highlight your expertise to gain new clients, and attend Viadeo events that will help you meet potential partners and clients and increase your visibility to grow your business.

    If you have just graduated and are looking for a job, you will enhance your online reputation to increase your visibility with HR managers. You will highlight your core competencies on your profile and connect with your alumni association where there are potential recruiters in your industry and you can respond to job offers.
  • Many readers may not know that Viadeo’s network in China, Tianji.com, is the country’s leading social network for professionals with 9 million members. Given over 80% of China’s jobs are not advertised and a person’s “Guanxi” (your connections) are so important to the job search, anyone targeting jobs in China would want to join Tianji.com at their first opportunity. Can you share a little bit about Tianji.com?

    Viadeo is by far the leader in China with over 9 million members under our Tianji brand on our Chinese local platform - more than any other professional site in China. In addition our monthly increase of new users has doubled since the start of the year to 500,000. 

    The use of social networks in China to find a job is a recent phenomenon. Micro-blogging activities are already really successful in China and currently most social networks are for entertainment, informal discussions and chat. Now Chinese people are asking themselves what else they can do with social networking – and a professional social network, such as Tianji, which can help them to do business, is the answer!

    Only in recent years have users in China begun to get comfortable with the idea of their real identity being on the Internet, which has been largely spurred by the gradual maturation of social networking services. Social networks such as Renren and Kaxin have started to change people’s behavior, making them willing to put their real information and real friends online – a very important step for building a professional social network.

    In the next 2 to 3 years we believe there will be explosive growth in the professional social network sector in China and we expect Tianji’s members to reach 18 million by the end of 2012.
  • How can job seekers in China best leverage it to support their career goals?

    The value of professional social networks for job seekers is the same in both China and Europe – for people to search and contact business partners, recruiters or employers. But the way they use them is different in several ways:

    *Jobseekers in China are more likely to use discussion forums, groups and events than in other markets so joining one of the hundreds of groups on Tianji is a great way to network and to meet recruiters.
    *Most Tianji members in China are mid to upper mid-level professionals, ranging from 25 to 40 in age and are at a stage in their careers where they have something to offer their peers—adding value—but are also eager to make connections, which draws them to the site— to receive value from others. Therefore jobseekers should not feel afraid to ask other members for introductions and recommendations or to directly contact recruiters.
    *The Q&A section is very popular on Tianji and asking and answering questions is a great way of demonstrating expertise.
    *For jobseekers who are not certain of their next professional step Tianji has a well-utilised career “quiz” which assesses responses to suggest a career path.

    And obviously Tianji has all the normal features you would expect on a social network – a personal profile which can act as a jobseeker’s online CV, a jobs area where members can browse and apply for jobs, and members can also connect their Weibo and Tianji accounts to increase their visibility.
  • I first learned about Viadeo merging with India’s network, ApnaCircle.com, a few years ago. It’s exciting to see that today it’s India’s leading business and career networking site. Can you describe the profile of ApnaCircle’s members and what specific benefits it offers to those interested in working in India?

    Being present in very different countries such as China and India, we can see there is not one universal way for our members to do business, to find a job or to develop relations through the world. It goes without saying that doing business and building professional relationships is deeply cultural. We believe that to run a professional social network successfully, you have to adapt your services to the specificities of each region.

    That’s why Viadeo acquired ApnaCircle, the number one local professional social network in India, with 3,5 million members in 2009. It allows Viadeo members in India and people interested in working in India to have access to local features and to the local market of recruitment, not only to international companies.

    For an example of culturally specific ways of networking we can consider India. We offer an SMS feature to our Indian members. Why? Because they more frequently use their mobile and recruiters use the phone interview frequently as the first step of the recruitment process. We also have a horoscope featues as our India members start their professional day consulting their horoscope (as well as before concluding a business deal, before going to a job interview).
  • I’ve just read about Viadeo Group’s recent office openings in Russia and Morocco. Can you share about how these new openings and partnerships will translate into benefits for your members in 2012?

    For those interested in Viadeo Group’s expansion into Russia and the African continent and globally with their “multilocal” approach, I invite your readers to have a look at the video of our CEO Dan Serfaty speaking about the opening of their latest office in Morocco.

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