Microsoft-owned professional networking company LinkedIn has extended its ‘Open for Business’ feature for small businesses beyond the US. The feature, which allows SMEs to list or add their services to their LinkedIn profiles, was launched in its home market in July this year and is now rolled out for the rest of the world, including India, the company announced on Monday. This would help SMEs and freelancers to get easily discovered by their potential customers. LinkedIn users would be able to locate the SME or the freelancer they are looking for in LinkedIn through the ‘service providers’ filter.
LinkedIn, founded in 2002, has 660 million users and 30 million businesses on its platform globally. According to Statista, India has the second-highest number of LinkedIn users — 59 million as of July 2019 while the US has the highest — 160 million users. China is its third-biggest market with 50 million users. “LinkedIn is uniquely positioned to help freelancers and small businesses be more productive and successful,” said Allen Blue, Co-founder and VP of Product Management, LinkedIn.
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SMEs joining the programme will have the ‘open to’ feature turned on for them with a box-like card appearing on the top of the business’s profile that would showcase the services SME offers. Users would be able to filter according to the services they are looking for apart from access to the list of entire services provided and sending a direct message to the SME. Small businesses, usually market themselves based on the word of mouth about the service they provide. “Open for Business’ aims to digitise this word of mouth, said LinkedIn. The feature is available in 28 languages.
Tech giants have been active in the Indian MSME sector that contributes 29 per cent to the country’s GDP and largely relies on traditional routes of running business operations. The digital adoption among MSMEs, however, is gradually moving up, given the increasing awareness among them to streamline their businesses and make them more efficient. This opens up a large market for technology companies to invest in right from helping them grow to supporting them with access to capital, marketing, expansion etc.
Facebook, for instance, which runs multiple programmes for small businesses had recently partnered with venture capital firm SAIF Partners for its VC brand incubator to get access to its portfolio companies to mentor and help them grow. Amazon, on the other hand, runs its Global Selling programme to help sellers which are largely SMEs, artisans and micro-entrepreneurs to sell their products globally.