Is social networking finally returning to the physical world? Maybe… Sort of… Kinda… Finally, after a pilot program was trialed last November, the career network site LinkedIn has at last rolled out LinkedIn Events. The new feature enables members of the professional network to create and join offline events (you know – meet-ups, get-togethers, product launches, conferences, that sort of thing), invite connections, communicate with other attendees, and stay in touch after the curtains fall.
With LinkedIn Events – which appears as a menu item on LinkedIn’s website and mobile app – the platform aims to foster offline community building and help members nurture deeper professional relationships. According to LinkedIn data, people are 2X more likely to accept connections on LinkedIn if they have attended a face-to-face meeting, indicating that offline networking is key to building stronger working relationships.
Announcing the launch of LinkedIn Events, Ajay Datta, Head of Product at LinkedIn India, said: “At LinkedIn, our core focus is to help our members connect and build lasting professional relationships. Face-to-face interactions are key to realizing this vision and bringing online communities to life. With this launch, our members now have a safe and trusted avenue to engage with their network online and offline. We see them using this product to host networking meet-ups, workshops, alumni meets, product launches, and other face-to-face gatherings.”
LinkedIn Events – How It Works
This isn’t the first time a social media platform has created a feature to bring social networking events to the physical world. Facebook Events, of course, has been available for some years already and serves quite successfully in its role of helping the non-professional world organize casual events. Datta believes, however, that until now there has been a gap in the social media market for professional events planning. “I think there is a massive whitespace for events today,” he said. “People don’t have a single place to organize [work-related] offline meetups specific to an industry or a neighborhood.”
Now they do. LinkedIn has made the process of creating a professional event extremely easy by including features such as the ability to create private or public events, send out event update notifications, search filters to invite the right attendees, and the ability to engage with LinkedIn’s 645 million global members.
“From your event page, you can easily track attendees and invitees, post updates and interact with other attendees,” explains Datta in a blog post. “LinkedIn’s algorithm automatically provides timely and relevant notifications to attendees to make sure they don’t miss any important updates about your event. Members who have joined the event can also invite people from their own networks to attend.”
All members of LinkedIn can now find what LinkedIn Events are taking place amongst their network on LinkedIn itself. Clicking on the “My Network” tab reveals what events you’ve been invited to (note: you can only invite and be invited by first-person contacts to an event) and choose to attend from there. Once you have chosen to attend an event, you can see the details of who else is going and connect, share updates, photos, and videos with other attendees on a dedicated event page. These interactions can continue before, during and after the event.
In many ways, LinkedIn Events is quite a simple feature. Not just in the sense of the limitations of this first iteration – you have no way to promote an event beyond your organic reach on LinkedIn, for instance, and you can’t create any ticketing or put caps on attendance numbers. But also in the more general sense that it’s surprising LinkedIn hasn’t launched an event organization tool until now – especially since Facebook provides a ready template for how to do it.
And it’s not as if LinkedIn hasn’t already created other, decidedly more complex tools to help its members make better connections with each other in the physical world. In 2014, LinkedIn launched the LinkedIn Connected app – which has since been axed as a standalone application as the experience is now available in the main LinkedIn app. The experience in question now manifests in the “find nearby” feature, which members can use to find out if any of their connections are in the same physical space – say, at the same conference – as they are.
It’s not clear why it’s taken so long for LinkedIn Events to have made its way onto the platform. But, now it’s here, professional social networking can start to take a leap out of the virtual world and into the physical one. And this will undoubtedly be beneficial to LinkedIn members.
Face-to-face networking is incredibly important for fostering business relationships and opening the door for potential career matches. In fact, the majority (68%) of entry-level professionals place more value on face-to-face networking than online interactions. And they should. Statistics show that executives and business travelers estimate that about 40% of prospects are converted to new customers with an in-person meeting, compared to just 16% without an in-person meeting.
Just because we’re in the age of online networking doesn’t mean face-to-face networking should be lost – and with LinkedIn Events, one can complement the other. At a time when many are arguing that technology and social media are leaving us more isolated and lonely than ever before, the launch of LinkedIn Events reminds us that even social media giants recognize the value of offline communities – and inviting online connections to meet face-to-face at real-world events is a fantastic way to foster them.
As Community Creator, Educator, and an early user of LinkedIn Events, Anna McAfee has found: “LinkedIn Events has helped boost the attendance and awareness of my events. It has attracted 2nd tier connections to the event that I otherwise would not have known, and it has allowed others to connect and grow their networks prior to the event. It has allowed for discussions beforehand, which I think has helped interested attendees to then attend the event, where they are in a position to know more and what to expect from the people who are coming.”
Terry is an experienced product management and marketing professional having worked for technology based companies for over 30 years, in different industries including; Telecoms, IT Service Management (ITSM), Managed Service Providers (MSP), Enterprise Security, Business Intelligence (BI) and Healthcare. He has extensive experience defining and driving marketing strategy to align and support the sales process. He is also a fan of craft beer and Lotus cars.