Japanese are not LinkedIn enough

TOKYO —

LinkedIn operates the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with a current membership of over 135 million. Close to 60% of these members are located outside the U.S. The latest data shows that professionals are signing up to join at a rate that is faster than two members per second.

Clearly, LinkedIn has become an essential tool for professionals all over the world to network, share business expertise, find jobs, advance professional knowledge, and build personal brands.

Last fall, LinkedIn set up shop in Japan with offices in Tokyo and the inclusion of the Japanese language on its site from October 2011. For Japan, LinkedIn’s proposition is to focus on local professionals and students keen to build their true identities and personal branding for their careers as well as the ability to connect with a global network.

However, Japanese are still not that familiar with it LinkedIn. In a recent presentation I gave to business management majors at a university in Japan, I surveyed the room about their social media usage. Almost all students use Mixi, Japan’s original social network, while 75% are on Twitter, about 50% on Facebook, maybe 15% on Google+, and absolutely 0% on LinkedIn. Out of a room of over 50 business majors, not even one person had a profile on the most powerful professional network in the world.

When I asked why, their answers ranged from not knowing how to use it to not even knowing what it is. Japanese university students about to graduate and current working professionals in Japan need to be on LinkedIn now more the ever. Global companies are actively using LinkedIn to find new talent in Japan, and headhunters throughout the country are sourcing experienced professionals on the network. My advice to any student and professional in Japan is to sign up for an account TODAY.

5 Tips to Brand Yourself on LinkedIn

Once signed up, here are 5 tips I share in Japan to effectively use LinkedIn to build and promote their personal brands.

1) Have a headline that sells an experience

When people visit your profile, the first thing they will see is your name and headline at the top of your “profile box”. This is the most visible part of your page and you want people to continue exploring your profile. People often fall into the trap of identifying themselves in their headline by a job title (“Accountant”) or label (“Business Major”). While this is a valid representation of what we do, it actually groups us into the same category as everyone else doing the same type of job or studying the same subject matter.

You have 120 characters to describe who you are. This is the first place to stand out. Consider your target audience and sell an experience not a title or label.  Instead of saying you are a “psychiatrist” tell others you are “The Shrink for Entrepreneurs who want freedom, wealth, and sanity.”

2) Get a Professional Head Shot

Absolutely do not leave out a photo and make sure that the photo you use is professionally done. Take the time to invest in high quality head shots as you will use them everywhere. Remember, LinkedIn is a professional business network. Your credibility is at stake, so avoid photos of at college parties or with groups of people where it is not clear which person is you!

3) Edit your LinkedIn URL to include your name

For example, www.linkedin.com/in/petersterlacci

Do not overlook this critical branding point. Beyond the power of simply having a profile on LinkedIn is the fact it is highly optimized on Google. Once you adjust the URL to include your full name, your profile will always show up on the first page of your Google results. This presence on the first page of search results will reinforce your online brand identity so that opportunities do not pass you by.

4) Write your ‘Summary’ in the first person and tell a story

By using “I am….” or “My name is…” you are speaking directly to those looking for you on LinkedIn. While the summary is not immediately visible unless someone views your full profile, it is probably the most important area on your profile. Treat this summary box as if it were your ‘elevator pitch’. Convince the readers of your LinkedIn profile that you have something unique to offer. Differentiate yourself from everyone else who seemingly offers the same service or who have similar skills, experience, and background. Michael Margolis, founder of Get Storied, tells us that “character trumps credentials”. There is plenty of space to show your credentials in the ‘Experience’ section of your profile. Use the Summary section to tell your story and show your character.

Also, your name is a key word and by using it in your summary you are improving the appearance of your name and profile when other search for you online.

5) Ask for recommendations (and recommend others)

Build your credibility and validation for your brand and experience by having people who know you well write recommendations on LinkedIn. Once you start adding people to your network, LinkedIn makes it easy for them to write you a recommendation. You also have the power to review the recommendation someone writes and decide whether to add it or ask for edits on what they wrote. As a student you can request recommendations from professors, classmates, internships or virtually anyone with whom you have shared an academic experience. And make sure to return the favor and write a recommendation for those who have taken the time to write one for you.

Author Infomation

Peter Sterlacci
Peter Sterlacci
Peter is known as “Japan’s personal branding pioneer" and is one of only 15 Master Certified Personal Branding Strategists in the world. In a country where fitting in is the norm, Peter’s mission is to pioneer a ‘cultural shift’ by helping Japanese to stand out in a global environment. His background spans over 20 years in intercultural consulting, international outreach, and global communication coaching. An avid cyclist, he combines cycling imagery with personal branding strategy to empower his clients to shift gears and sprint to career success.
Website: http://www.petersterlacci.com
  • 12

    Stephen Knight

    Gee, maybe they're too busy out looking for jobs in the real world too spend hours setting up and fiddling with their LinkedIn profiles. You might want to survey those millions of LI users and find out what percentage of them ever got past the initial set-up stage.

  • 9

    Virtuoso

    If you've got LinkedIn, be prepared for the SNS to grab the contents of your address book and spam everyone who's name is in it with invitations to join. I heartily detest this company and only wish there were a way I could block all the spam mails it sends me. LinkedIn is the IT version of genital herpes.

  • 2

    oikawa

    I don't see the point in LinkedIn, I really don't. There may be 130 million registered users, hell even I've got 2 profiles for some reason, but I doubt hardly anyone has actually done anything useful with it, and why would they? You know some fellow "professionals", so what? What is there useful to do apart from headhunters scouring their contacts' contacts' contacts lists to try and get then to change jobs?

  • 3

    ivarwind

    not even one person had a profile on the most powerful professional network in the world.

    Global companies are actively using LinkedIn to find new talent in Japan, and headhunters throughout the country are sourcing experienced professionals on the network.

    Obviously the first statement implies either that the second statement is wrong (very likely) or that there are some pretty stupid headhunters out there.

    "The Shrink for Entrepreneurs who want freedom, wealth, and sanity."

    That's his example of standing out? Yeah, it stands out all right... (File under mo, e, ru)

    It seems like a case of "don't do what this guy recommends, and you can't be all wrong."

  • 3

    hatsoff

    The writer's blurb proclaims his mission is to help Japanese stand out in a global environment, and seeing as the article is one big advertisement for LinkedIn, shouldn't it be written in...er, Japanese?

    Wrong audience, my friend. Head pronto for the translators and stick it in a Japanese publication. Now put my check in the post, there's a good fellow; I don't do consultancy for free.

  • -2

    Jonathan Hunt

    Thank you, Stephen Knight. You are a genius.

  • 1

    odango3

    After the LinkedIn website was hacked recently and over 6 million users passwords and other details were leaked, I immediately cancelled my account. I was a member for 5 years with over 80 contacts, but nothing positive came out of it; it just wasted my time.

  • -1

    jonobugs

    I would think that anything that claims to be that powerful would need no introduction. I would also assume that since no on in Japan knows what it is, it would then mean that anyone in Japan using it might be wasting their time unless they want a job outside of Japan.

  • -2

    Peter Sterlacci

    Wow, seems like I struck a chord with the anti-LinkedIn user crowd! Nonetheless, thank you all for your comments and viewpoints. The fact remains that people who actively use LinkedIn and treat it more than just a "resume" are actually finding it to be a worthwhile tool to connect, find opportunities, and promote their brand. Just posting your profile is not enough, and I would argue that perhaps the reason why some folks 'give up' on using it is because they have not optimized their profile with key words, or have not taken the time to differentiate themselves in such a way to stand out. One more fact to keep in mind is that 75 of the Fortune 100 companies actively use LinkedIn as their corporate hiring solution. At the end of the day, your profile can get your foot in the door but how you communicate and connect in person is what ultimately matters. But, each to his own, and I certainly would never force someone to use it if they did not want to.

    Keep the comments coming folks, good or bad or ugly!!

  • 1

    oikawa

    Thank you for the reply Peter. Appreciate it. I still do not see the benefit of LI though. What is it's value added? From what I can see it would only be useful for a) a lucky break b) promotion of your own business. But (a) is not sufficient reason, and (b) doesn't work on LI as it's just a list of random people you know not necessarily linked business wise. If I wanted to promote my product I'd do it in a lot more focused way than I can do on LI, or in a way that would just be a replica of real life. I also don't really understand what you mean by

    not optimized their profile with key words, or have not taken the time to differentiate themselves in such a way to stand out. One more fact to keep in mind is that 75 of the Fortune 100 companies actively use LinkedIn as their corporate hiring solution.

    Everybody I know on LI is already well established in their career. They don't need to "differentiate themselves". And how do these 75 companies use LI for hiring? Most companies I know use traditional hiring techniques.

  • 0

    Peter Sterlacci

    Oikawa, companies are using LinkedIn as an initial go to source to identify possible candidates particularly for mid-career positions. Perhaps a better word I should use is 'sourcing' not 'hiring'. Companies still 'hire' the standard way based on interviews, etc. Where LI makes a difference is if your profile is optimized and companies are looking for someone with a particular background in XYZ then your profile (as long as it is written in an optimized way) will be closer to the tops profiles that come up in search. They are also using LI to post positions on their own company pages and LI users who are following these companies can see these positions and apply directly via LI.

    Also, when I say "differentiate" even someone who is well established in their career needs to still differentiate themselves. For example, let's say I am a well established CPA. How am I different from the gazillion other CPAs out there. People run the risk of being a commodity if they they rely on only on a well established job title. Your title is of course important but connecting it to your unique promise of value is what enables you to stand out and differentiate yourself to secure a position or opportunity that so many other people are looking into.

    Are you familiar with LI 'groups', 'answers', 'company pages'? These are just three examples of how you can use LI to demonstrate your thought leadership, skills, etc. I am not going to go into the details of these here, but you can easily read more about them online. Let me give you an example. A family member of mine was well established in her career for 15 years at a biotech company and had no intention of leaving, but she lost her job due to cuts. Because she remained active on LI and maintained good connections, she made it clear that she was looking for work. She landed a job pretty quickly through LI. I can cite many more examples like this. My family member was active in groups related to her field and this is how she found a new job.

    Finally, I do not see LI as a list of random people. The 380 connections I have are all connections for very specific reasons. I do not connect with random people. Some people do but this is not recommended. I personally do not use LI for job search as I run my own business, but it has lead to 3 recent paid consulting gigs.

    So, it does work if you 'work it'. Thanks for your follow up comment. Appreciate the dialog!

  • 1

    Ranger_Miffy2

    Is LinkedIn in Japanese? If so, then Japanese people will continue to use amongst themselves. Fine. If not, then it is solely for the language most people use for business and professional life: English. And that would explain the dearth of Jpns users.

  • 1

    Pietro Zuco

    @Peter do you have any source to support that there are 0% Japanese users in linkedin? Just the fact that there were no Japanese linkedin users in your presentation? it doesn't mean that in Japan linkedin has 0% users. In the previous two companies I worked for, almost all my Japanese coworkers had an account. That was back in the time when Linkedin wasn't even in Japanese... Headhunters in Linkedin are almost all foreigners or foreign headhunting companies, looking for bilingual people in the IT sector. In Japan things work quite different and there are already many networks that work much better than linkedin to find a job. I say "much better" not in terms that Linkedin is bad, but it's not used, therefore not useful at the moment. So, I see no point for Japanese to join one more network that is not popular in Japan. It's just cool for many of them, but not really useful. We cannot compare mixi or twitter, they are general purpose social networks.

    Linkedin should do things differently. They just translated their site, also for technical reasons. I understand that it's easier to do a literal translation if you want to make the fields match in their DB. But they should put a little more effort and create a site specifically for Japan. I wrote an article a year ago when I heart that linkedin was about to enter in Japan, suggesting what they should do. http://blog.zuco.org/2011/01/04/what-linkedin-should-do-to-be-japanese/ http://blog.zuco.org/2011/01/04/what-linkedin-should-do-to-be-japanese

    Cultural gaps are huge and I don't see any point to use linkedin if you are not interested to find a job outside Japan or for a foreign company. If Linkedin wants to become a real social network for professionals in Japan, they should start learning what other similar companies are doing for a long time in Japan... They should first watch, learn and listen, then act!

  • 1

    Ganesan MuthuKrishanan M

    I feel nothing special in LI. This article looks like a manual or how to use LI.

  • -1

    Peter Sterlacci

    @Pietro The 0% as mentioned in my opinion piece was simply for that single class of business majors. It does not refer to Japanese as a whole. I also know a lot of Japanese on LinkedIn. I am just trying to encourage people who are actually looking for jobs in foreign subsidiary companies, not typical Japanese firms. Yes, you are right that there are other very successful networks that work for Japanese who are not bilingual, who want to work comfortable inside a Japanese company. I agree that LI as a company needs to do as you suggest. They have come out with a 'navi' site that is helping: http://jp.navi.linkedin.com/ (This is what Facebook did as well after a few years of struggling to make an impact in Japan.

  • 0

    jonobugs

    My previous comment was basically to state that if only a few Japanese people use this website, it's not that useful for upcoming grads at this point. It's one of those sites that will only become useful for people once it catches on and becomes popular so if few Japanese students know or use this site it's probably not a big deal. The ones that join now will be the 'pioneers' I suppose.

  • -1

    Wanda-kun

    LinkedIn? Most Japanese companies (and government agencies as well) barely know how to use the Internet let alone make use of networking sites, regardless of their value.

  • 0

    Wanda-kun

    VirtuosoJul. 16, 2012 - 07:54AM JST If you've got LinkedIn, be prepared for the SNS to grab the contents of your address book and spam everyone who's name is in it with invitations to join.

    This is nonsense. The only invitations I ever receive from LI are to connect with people that I may already know (due to university or employment). The program does not have the ability to tap into your e-mail address book. That's hacking and LI would have been called on that long ago if it were happening.

  • 2

    Tim_Fox

    I gave LinkedIn a fair chance - trying to network with people in my industry (education). I connected with old colleagues and college classmates too. And yes, posted a nice online resume. I found it far less useful than Facebook, as the majority of people in my industry seemed to have an annoying tech bent - i.e. online ESL lessons, or happened to be recruiters trying to get me to move from Japan to New York or to the Mid-East. All in all, there are much better industry sites for my business including Dave's ESL Cafe, TESOL, and sorry to say - Facebook. So, no I don't use LinkedIn very much other than to store a reasonably current version of my resume.

    As for Japanese, things are still very paper oriented here. You go to a job interview - you hand write a job resume on a form. People don't want an online version. Computer literacy amongst young people is not that high compared to the USA or Canada. Some inroads are being made with using the Internet over cell phones - but Yahoo and Mixi are more in vogue here - and probably more useful for Japanese for social as well as job networking.

  • 1

    yildiray

    Has linkedin bumped up their security? I can't imagine the stories of being hacked, or transmitting data without permission, last month has made your job of enticing Japanese users any easier...

  • -2

    Peter Sterlacci

    @Tim_Fox
    Hi Tim, thanks for the comment. Have you used the LI groups to connect with people in your industry? Currently there are 241 groups in LI that focus on the ESL industry. You can further break this down into specific areas such as ESL jobs (22 groups), etc. And if there isn't a group that is Japan based, perhaps use it as an opportunity to start such a group yourself and become a thought leader and resource. Just a thought.

    Yes, Japan in general is still paper-based but this does need to change and will have to some day. Once Facebook came out with their 'navi' site Japanese users finally understood the benefits and parted with their typical value of staying anonymous online. LI is now following this model to hopeful avoid going through a couple years of struggling to get users as Facebook did.

  • 1

    Tim_Fox

    Peter, now I see you are directly involved in product promotions.

    Thanks for the information. I may have another look.

    Having said that, ESL professionals in groups I have tried are involved in some way shape or form with IT and ESL management (i.e. online classes or trying to start up a new language learning website), or with recruiting.

    This may have to do with the focus of LinkedIn on technology professional and managers. The only clickable category at this time on LinkIn for education (to my knowledge) is "Educational Management." I'm not really sure what "educational management" is, but as a teacher I ended up clicking that anyways without having any other choice. But, it wasn't really appropriate for me...

  • -2

    Peter Sterlacci

    @Tim_Fox I am actually NOT involved in product promotion at all. I am not affiliated with LI, get no $$ from them, absolutely zero. I am simply trying to offer an example that might be of some use. After your message I took the time on my own to simply do a search on LI groups for ESL just to see what would come up and thought I would share.

    I have found that many people simply are unaware of how LI can be utilized as I was until I learned more about it. I get zero financial gain for this, just my way of offering information. That's all.

  • 0

    Cos

    Out of a room of over 50 business majors, not even one person had a profile on the most powerful professional network in the world.

    Not even idle nerd students play that game ? That confirms that none of our potential customers in Japan is there. Not that I had big doubts.

  • -1

    gogogo

    Linked in is for people that only care about advancing their career at any cost and not actually doing the work that needs to be done.

  • 2

    escape_artist

    Who cares about "branding" anyway, especially oneself? Does everything under the sun have to be commoditized. No, of course not. People are not products.

  • 4

    tmarie

    **The fact remains that people who actively use LinkedIn and treat it more than just a "resume" are actually finding it to be a worthwhile tool to connect, find opportunities, and promote their brand. **

    Care to back that statement up with concrete evidence? I have a linkedin account but see it as the weaker facebook contact medium. No one I know really uses it and the people who load up their resumes and "try" to make friends or use it are the older, washed up folks who seem to think it is the key to getting a job - which is laughable.

  • -2

    Peter Sterlacci

    @escape_artist The point of branding and managing you own personal brand is to NOT be a commodity. Commodities are by nature interchangeable and they compete for the lowest possible price. Brands differentiate themselves by using what is their unique value that no one else offers. They offer an experience that people are willing to pay for. When you use your personal brand, which is what is authentic and unique to you, then it is an experience that people become attracted to/

    @tmarie Facebook also serves as a very good way to connect and find opportunities. Recent data suggests that just over 60% of companies are using FB as a recruiting tool. Or, they are looking at people's FB pages to see how the present themselves. FB's application called Branch Out is actually a great career management tool for people who are in a younger bracket. You are right in that only 30% of LI users are under 35. But I beg to differ that those of us over 35 are 'washed up'. And, again, I never suggested that LI is the "key to getting a job". The key to getting a job is your presence in person and how your present yourself in an interview. LI is just a tool and can never replace the person.

  • 2

    gogogo

    I agree with tmarie

  • 0

    Joseph Garrett Baxter

    LinkedIn is the most useful website that I use for my business. Without it I would not have a job. It is the most awesome thing since sliced bread.

  • 0

    lissaneor

    Some serious steps from LinkedIn can make it popular. http://becoming-a-psychiatrist.org/how-to-become-a-psychiatrist-in-illinois/

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