In addition, LinkedIn is coming to the market late when others such as rival Viadeo Group have been active in the country. In 2007, Viadeo acquired the Chinese professional social networking site Tianji.com. Early last year, the site had over 14 million users.
But the bigger obstacle for LinkedIn comes from China's domestic Internet firms, according to Ben Cavender, an analyst with China Market Research Group. Already, many Chinese Internet users are relying on local social networking platforms, such as Sina Weibo and WeChat, to not only communicate with friends and read news, but also find jobs. Both Sina Weibo and WeChat each have over 300 million registered users. At the same time, many of LinkedIn's prospective users in China -- those who speak English and are looking for international opportunities -- are already on the site, Cavender said.
To grow, the company will have to provide a strong contact base as well as job opportunities for Chinese-language users. "I think it's possible that they could do quite well here," Cavender said. "They are well established already in bigger cities like Shanghai and Beijing but it will take time to build the user base in other markets in China. The Chinese language version of the site should allow them to do this."