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Ali Matar: How LinkedIn Has Changed Professional Networking

In the second of our two-part interview, we speak to EMEA Growth Markets Leader and Head of LinkedIn MENA, Ali Matar, about how LinkedIn has become the platform of choice for professionals--and how it is evolving to meet their changing needs.

By Inc.Arabia Staff
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Last year, LinkedIn saw its highest percentage growth in revenue in three years. The platform, which has over a billion users globally and 65 million in MENA, is seeing 10% year-over-year revenue growth and has quickly become the platform of choice for professional networking and recruiting. It’s also adapting its offerings to better serve regions like MENA.

According to EMEA Growth Markets Leader and Head of LinkedIn MENA, Ali Matar, LinkedIn is witnessing record levels of engagement.

“Our AI-assisted messaging tools are seeing a 40% higher acceptance rate, while our AI-powered collaborative articles have soared past the 12 million contribution mark. We continue to combine our unique data with this new generation of AI to transform the way members learn, sell, and get hired,” Matar tells us.  

We speak to Matar about how LinkedIn reflects the changing needs of the professional community, how it's using AI to better serve users, and how video is changing the way that users consume content. 

Below is an edited transcript of our interview.

Inc. Arabia: How has LinkedIn’s vision changed since it began in 2002? How did it go from being a place where people share CVs to a platform for professional networking?

Ali Matar: From day one, LinkedIn’s vision has been to create opportunities for every member of the global workforce. This vision has not changed. LinkedIn is a platform where professionals have a dedicated space to connect and support their professional pursuits-- job seekers looking for the next opportunity, employers looking for new talent, and professionals looking to expand their networks and engage with each other. 

From a concept that started in Reid Hoffman’s living room in 2002 to the world’s largest professional network today, the past 22 years have been transformational for LinkedIn. Since then, the platform has revolutionized recruitment and professional networking.

At the turn of the millennium, hiring was an impersonal affair: Recruiters used classified job boards and job seekers had to rely on word of mouth or find a job in the paper. Networking was limited to events and simply who you immediately knew through work, family, or friends.

We have driven a paradigm shift. Job seekers can now actively seek out opportunities that align with their values, dreams, and personal goals. With LinkedIn Recruiter, hiring managers can advertise to over one billion members worldwide. 

And LinkedIn continues to evolve. We see our members connecting, sharing their insights, contributing to conversations on the latest news and trends, and expanding their network by connecting with like-minded professionals across the world. They are also able to upskill through over 22,000 LinkedIn Learning courses and get tailored advice on job and learning opportunities.

IA: What role is AI playing at LinkedIn? Do you expect to see more AI integration into LinkedIn in the coming years, and if so, how?

AM: AI has a long history at LinkedIn. We started using it to enhance our members’ professional experiences and connect hirers with the right candidates, and we continue to refine how the technology is seamlessly integrated into the LinkedIn platform.

Now, we are putting Generative AI into the hands of our members and customers to help them more effectively connect to opportunities, be more productive, showcase their expertise and skills, gain access to the knowledge they need to do their jobs, and find the right match between hirers and job seekers. 

Last year, we launched a suite of new products and services. We ramped up new Generative AI-powered hiring and learning functions such as the Recruiter 2024 tool and AI-powered coaching. We also launched the Accelerate automated B2B marketing campaign creation experience for marketers.

For people who use LinkedIn to find that new opportunity, we rolled out a new Premium experience through AI-powered features like personalized writing suggestions.

And for all professionals, AI now facilitates a platform-wide conversation on the latest topics and trends. Through Collaborative Articles, an AI-powered conversation starter, insights and perspectives from members are published on LinkedIn. This sparks conversations, provides learning opportunities, and leads to connections. 

IA: How are publishers working with LinkedIn?

AM: LinkedIn works with over 400 news publishers globally. These publishers collaborate with our in-house editorial team to optimize their content across LinkedIn. This enables them to display their content to more people on the platform and extend the conversation around specific topics and issues. 

We are seeing the impact of this collaborative approach. Globally, 240 million members, or almost one-quarter of LinkedIn’s total members, follow at least one news publisher. Having access to content from publishers on LinkedIn is an important part of helping our members have conversations on a range of professional topics.

IA: Although it’s a social media platform, LinkedIn has traditionally been almost exclusively reserved for business connections. Is that changing? Are people using LinkedIn more recreationally?

AM: We stay anchored in our vision to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce. We know that our members expect LinkedIn to stay grounded in our professional context, and we encourage them to collaborate and share their experiences and expertise with others. In return, they can expect LinkedIn to be a safe platform where they can engage in respectful and professional conversations.

Our professional context makes LinkedIn unique. We see like-minded people talking to each other all the time and forming communities on LinkedIn to talk about work and share ideas, get advice, discuss topics they care about, and connect virtually. We don’t see this changing at any point. We actively encourage and work on elevating thought-provoking conversations between professionals. 

IA: LinkedIn is currently testing a TikTok-like video feature. Can you tell us more about that? Who is it for and what applications will it have?

AM: LinkedIn’s vision is to create opportunities for every member of the global workforce. Our product innovation aims to support this by launching new features that support our members in their professional journeys, including learning and upskilling.

Video is one important format. It allows us to showcase a wide array of knowledge content richly and authentically and captures the diversity of professional knowledge, from corporate humor through to career tips. We see that creation and consumption are growing fast on LinkedIn with video as one of the top ways professionals are consuming and sharing.

This is the second of a two-part interview with EMEA Growth Markets Leader and Head of LinkedIn MENA Ali Matar.

The first part, How LinkedIn Serves MENA And How That's Changing, spotlights how LinkedIn is adapting its offerings to better serve MENA. 

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