When Australian Anna McAfee, a well-connected businesswoman and mother of two toddlers, realised she was missing face-to-face contact with real people she invited her local LinkedIn connections to meet up for a drink. A total of 18 people turned up.
Anna decided to post details of the small gathering online, using #LinkedInLocal to spread the news. What followed was a global phenomenon that not many, even Anna, could have envisaged.
The post garnered a huge amount of interest from entrepreneurs around the world, many of whom wanted to know how they could run similar events in their own communities.
Among those to lodge early enquiries were Alexandra Galviz, from the UK, and Canadian Manu Goswami, and the pair quickly made contact with Anna.
The trio, along with American Ryan Troll, could see the appetite across the globe for in-person connections outside the parameters of the digital age and went on to found LocalX, a steering group for the #LinkedInLocal movement.
“Social media has revolutionised virtual connections and allowed businesses from across the world to become truly global,” says Anna.
“What we hadn’t realised was just how large the human connection gap had become.”
Anna’s modest event in Coffs Harbour in northern New South Wales, networking over coffee, was held in June 2017, and just over a year later #LinkedInLocal had reached more than 360 towns and cities in 60 countries, with almost 600 hosts.
Now, the four co-founders of LocalX are developing a tech platform, branding and support kits to help hosts worldwide set up events on their local patch. It is their aim to revolutionise the concept of networking.
“The #LinkedInLocal campaign is the longest and largest running campaign that LinkedIn has ever seen,” says Alexandra.
“LocalX are only just starting to understand the massive impact and benefits for people of reconnecting in a real and non-competitive way.”
And Alexandra insists #LinkedInLocal is a cut above traditional networking events, with an emphasis on collaboration, not profit. She added: “At our events you won’t be pitched or sold to, they are not-for profit and our hosts are local to the area they’re hosting in so they know what their community needs and wants.
“These events are for anyone who wants to find a place to belong, where real people connect face to face with other human beings. They are for everyone.
“You don’t need a business, a glam job title – just your whole self – the person behind your professional profile.”
Find your nearest event by searching #LinkedInLocal.