Many professionals use LinkedIn in one capacity or another—whether it’s job-hunting or connecting with like-minded people to build corporate little black books. But how many of those connections have we actually met in person?
Online social strategist and LinkedIn user Anna McAfee of Coffs Harbour, Australia had the same thought. Through her years of traveling around the world, she’s built an impressive network on LinkedIn, but has always had that nagging feeling that she really didn’t know the people she was sharing posts with. Last April, she decided to create a post with the hashtag #LinkedInLocal asking those she was connected with to meet up.
“To my surprise, a lot of people reacted to the post,” McAfee said. “Not only the 18 people who showed up, but also people in other cities around the world.”
Word spread quickly about LinkedIn Local and others followed suit, creating events to connect with one another face to face. Now more than 100 cities around the world—including right here in Baltimore—are connecting in person.
“I'm so humbled and surprised by the global response to this idea,” she said. “I believe the idea of connecting people and creating events where people feel their contribution is valued, and not for the sole purpose of ‘selling,’ is what people are drawn to.”
Locally, two friends—consultant Melody Baron and networking guru Joe Zumbo—hosted a LinkedInLocalBmore event last week in Highlandtown at Harbor Craft Films. Guests were able to network, chow down on eats from Modern Cook Shop, and hear from co-founder of Pixilated photo booth, Patrick Rife.
“It was amazing and the feedback was really great,” Baron said. “It was better than I expected. It’s about the people and the community as they come together and thrive as a network.”
The goal of LinkedIn Local is to connect humans on a personal level and learn more about people than what is on their social media profile. The next event on February 21 is specifically geared toward turning online connections into offline relationships. Jason Dixon, executive VP of Neuberger & Company, will speak about the differences in communicating online versus in person.
According to a few recent studies, it actually isn’t our immediate connections—like close family and friends—that help secure a new job, but instead second- or third-degree connections. Those are exactly the people, Baron says, guests will meet in person at a LinkedIn Local event.
“I literally met a person face to face that I’ve only ever seen a little circle of,” Baron said. “People come to these events to genuinely talk and get to know each other and, if business erupts from that, that’s great.”
Future events will occur the third Wednesday of every month. Tickets are $15 and all of the ticket sale proceeds will be donated to Living Classrooms Foundation. Moving forward, Baron and Zumbo plan to host the meet up at various places around the city.
“I really want to mix it up a bit and bring a really interesting and diverse collection of people together so we can learn from one another,” Baron said. “That’s why I was so interested in this. It gives me the opportunity to curate a space that I was looking for that I couldn’t find before.”