Leela Srinivasan T'06 says different social networking sites have different personalities. "If MySpace is like a Saturday night on the town and Facebook is like hanging out with friends and family on the weekend, LinkedIn is your office," says Srinivasan. "We are the only true social professional network."
Srinivasan has been with Mountain View, Calif.-based LinkedIn since January, where she works as senior product marketing manager for Recruiting Solutions, the division whose suite of enterprise products has become one of the social-networking company's largest and fastest-growing sources of revenue. "Our core product is about helping recruiters find, contact, and build relationships with top talent," she explains. "Corporate recruiters pay to have greater access to our network—giving them the equivalent of a highly-dynamic black book, so to speak. We also provide employment branding support for our clients."
Since its founding in 2003, LinkedIn has grown to become what it refers to as "the world's largest professional network," with more than 80 million members in over 200 countries and new ones signing up approximately every second of every day. The company's workforce is also exploding: it had 500 employees when Srinivasan arrived in January, 750 by late August, and is expected to reach 900 by year's end. "I've never been so excited in my professional career," Srinivasan raves. "There's a certain fever you encounter when you join LinkedIn."
At LinkedIn, members create online professional profiles, invite trusted friends and colleagues to join their network, and then, like a giant invitation-only virtual water cooler, use these prescreened connections to share ideas, search for jobs, discover potential clients, and brainstorm with like-minded professionals in private group settings. And like other social networking sites, there's no cost to join.
Of course, LinkedIn's investors, who have poured nearly $100 million into the company to date, aren't backing a nonprofit, which is where Srinivasan comes in. For LinkedIn's Recruiting Solutions service, she is "defining our products, determining what's in them, how we price them, how we go to market with them."
Shrinavasan's background in sales at Business Wire and as a consultant at Bain & Company prepared her for many of the demands of her new position, but she says it's the marketing and leadership skill that she learned at Tuck that she leverages every day. "Building a reputation, spreading influence, planning for rollout of products A, B, and C. Formulating strategy and engaging stakeholders ... " Srinivasan runs down the list.
She is also a zealot when it comes to the power of the Tuck alumni network. "I wouldn't be here had I not been at Bain. And the Tuck network is what helped introduce me to Bain. Life is a series of doors, with options on which ones to open over time," she continues. "My options changed dramatically because I went to Tuck."