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LinkedIn currently has over 69 million users in India. (REUTERS)
LinkedIn currently has over 69 million users in India. (REUTERS)

'Virtual selling, learning, networking have become more important'

  • There was reasonable traction on the platform even before the pandemic, but during the pandemic, members realised that it was just not okay to think about jobs; it is very important to think about skills

NEW DELHI: Over the past decade, LinkedIn has evolved from being a professional networking platform to a social media giant that offers a place to up-skill, post opinions, read news and so on. The company currently has over 69 million users in India. Between February and August 2020 or post covid-19, LinkedIn added five million members in India — the spike, in many ways, underlined economic distress during the pandemic. Going ahead, the platform wants to keep focussing on the community and play a bigger role in the future of work, Ashutosh Gupta, country manager, India, at LinkedIn told Mint during an interview. Edited excerpts:

How has LinkedIn’s priorities evolved during the covid-19 crisis?

In the last six months, virtual selling, learning, networking became important, particularly during the lockdown. The platform’s relevance has jumped multifold. Our professional community is the number one priority, both from a member's perspective as well as from the government agencies’ standpoint. We recently tied up with the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) so that we can help with re-skilling.

How has the skilling part taken off?

There are powerful courses on the platform that can help you acquire new skills. There was reasonable traction on the platform even before the pandemic. But during the pandemic, members by themselves, realised that it was just not okay to think about jobs; it is very important to think about skills. Our engagement on learning has increased many folds. Our economic graph data shows very clearly that digitisation and digital skills will be important, going forward. Even when you work in the manufacturing industry, you are going to need digital skills. That is the reason we partnered with NSDC (140 courses are available free on NSDC’s eSkill India portal).

NSDC is a catalyst for blue collar skilling. Is this the first step LinkedIn is taking from being a white collar-centric platform to being relevant to the blue collar?

We always keep tracking opportunities. But we are still very focussed on the white-collar segment. We want to make sure that we solve for them (the white collar) first before we move on to the next. There is a lot of work left there.

Over the last few years, we have seen a lot of politicians join the platform. Was that a conscious effort from LinkedIn’s side? What they do on the platform is not necessarily professional networking…

I don’t think it was a conscious effort but politicians are also professionals and they do want to talk to the professional community. Irrespective of members, our mission is clear and it applies to all members. There are guidelines, there are terms and conditions and policies. So, there is no political discussion, per se. But as a professional member, you want to share your vision of what you want to do for India — that is welcome. The underlying thing is that we need to maintain trust with our members. We don’t want to solve everything. We are a professional community and we will solve for the professional needs.

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