LinkedIn may be king of business-oriented social networks in the English speaking world, but in France Viadeo is still number one. Much like its American counterpart, the site allows members to discover new clients, partners and staff, build their professional network and build their reputation. LinkedIn launched a French language version of its site in 2008, but the site has yet to draw nearly as many members as the French born and bred Viadeo.
The features of both sites are fairly similar, as Viadeo was actually inspired by LinkedIn. Back in 2003, Viadeo founder and CEO Dan Serfaty was planning on creating a software program for members of an entrepreneur club to share their business contacts. After receiving an invitation to LinkedIn, he realized it would be far more convenient to create this “software” online. His entrepreneur club invited all of their contacts and members of their alumni networks to the site, and Viadeo was well on its way to the more than 25 million users it has today.
Headquartered in Paris, the company that began as a network for French business professionals has now acquired the Chinese site Tianji.com, Canadian site Unyk, Indian site ApnaCircle, and Spanish site ICTnet. Viadeo itself is offered in 7 languages and even has about 100,000 members in LinkedIn’s home territory, the US. Unlike some of its counterparts, the site is fully localized in all 7 languages it offers. French, German, English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Dutch speakers won’t have to worry about knowing French to use certain parts of the site or to understand certain widgets.
Viadeo as a whole is aimed fairly locally at mid and top level companies, while LinkedIn seems to have a more international approach. One of Viadeo’s more unique features is its service for recruiters. After being screened to weed out spammers, recruiters pay a subscription fee and gain the power to perform filtered searches of the Viadeo community that allow them to send their job ads to specifically targeted audiences.
While Viadeo may reign king in France right now, LinkedIn is growing more popular by the day. LinkedIn France took a huge step forward when it partnered with Apec, a site that offers job listings and resources much like Monster, in 2008. Viadeo is not about to give up the French market, or any market for that matter, to their American counterpart. At the end of March Viadeo officially announced that they were partnering with Apec (and replacing LinkedIn’s partnership), and they also recently added 5 open social apps: Twitter, PollDaddy, a document sharing service called Ayos iShare, a service for traveling called Wipolo and Google Presentation.
While there’s certainly been a lot of back and forth between the competitors, for now, those looking to network in France will find more contacts with a profile on Viadeo. Those looking to work internationally should definitely take a look at LinkedIn.