Going on a Business Trip? Use the LinkedIn Events Application and Windmill Network!

If you’ve followed my Windmill Networking blog for awhile or read my LinkedIn book, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of the LinkedIn Events Application.  Seriously.  I wrote an April Fools’s post back in 2009 complaining why Events wasn’t considered an application with a blog post rhetorically entitled, “What are LinkedIn Applications?”  I was the first one to ask “What Happened to LinkedIn Events?” when they mysteriously disappeared for a day in October of 2009.  So you can say that I have a personal relationship with Events, and when all of the “social media gurus” talk about Facebook Events, Eventbrite, and Plancast, which are all also great platforms for events, I still think they misunderstand or under appreciate the potential for using the LinkedIn Events application.

I’ve been traveling a lot the last few weeks, speaking on social media as well as attending award ceremonies for my social media book.  As I am an avid Windmill Networker, meaning that I see the value of social networking to be of networking outside of my present network, I am always open to connecting with others on LinkedIn.  There is value in plugging our windmills into the grid that is social media and virtually connecting.  But the deep value and trust that comes out of relationships are when they are developed offline in the real world.  That is why, whenever I travel outside of my native Orange County, California, I try to create a LinkedIn Event and use it as an avenue to not only bring together people that I am connected to on LinkedIn but have never met, but also an opportunity to meet new people that may have similar interests.

Through the advice that I present below, I have been able to meet with between 10 and 30 people apiece at networking events that I created in Portland, Oregon, Jacksonville, Florida, and New York City in the past few weeks…and I had never previously met any of these people!  Once you meet new people at a networking events, there are countless opportunities to learn from others, share information, help others, and maybe find a new business partner or even get a new lead either directly or indirectly from your new contact.  Rather than spending time in your hotel room by yourself, it is a way to enrich your professional life and make new friends.  You never know when your connecting with that person will help you or them out in the future.

So the next time you are on a business trip, follow this procedure to create a way for people to meet you through the LinkedIn Events Application and Windmill Network!

  1. You first need to create a LinkedIn Event. This is not difficult to do, and step-by-step instructions of how to do so are in my LinkedIn book.  The important things that you need to prepare are a title (“networking event” makes sense), a description which should want to bring people out to meet and network, and you need to find a location.  I do this by going to Google Maps, figuring out both where I plan to be on business as well as where my hotel is, and then find an ideal area which makes logistical sense for the time that I plan to hold the event (late afternoons/early evenings seem to be the best time).  I then go to Yelp and find a location that has a bar/large party atmosphere located in the ideal area.  You can find these by using “large party restaurant” or “large group restaurant” in the search terms so that you can be assured that there won’t be an issue if a lot of people come!  Check out the reviews and take your pick of location.
  2. After creating the LinkedIn Event, inform your network. As a LinkedIn Open Networker or LION, I have acquired a lot of LinkedIn connections over time.  When I did a search through my contacts of connections living in Portland, Oregon, I found that I already had more than 130 connections living there that I had never met!  Obviously the larger your network, the more connections you are bound to have in any given city.  Using the InBox feature, send out a blast with a link to the LinkedIn Event to your connections.  You can add 50 connections to the same message for efficiency’s sake.  If your network is smaller…
  3. Invite those who are members of similar LinkedIn Groups. You joined a Group for a reason: you want to obtain or share information with others that have a similar interest.  Why not do an Advanced People Search using a keyword (I used “social media”) and look for people in Groups that you belong to that you may want to meet up with?  If you are a member of the same Group, chances are you will be able to send them a LinkedIn Message regardless of your connectivity status.  Go for it, contact them, but be clear as to why you want to meet with them in the first place.  And, remember, it is a pain, but every Message to a common Group member that you are not connected to must be done separately, one-by-one…
  4. Send out a reminder to those that RSVP to your LinkedIn Event. This is something that I originally did not do, and I regret not doing it because I think that attendance to my networking events could have been greater had I sent out a friendly reminder to all of those that RSVPed “Attending” and “Interested” on the Event page a few days before the event.
  5. Prepare for the LinkedIn Event by checking out the Profiles of those that RSVPed. Better yet, print out their profiles for airplane reading!
  6. Enjoy your time with new friends!  You’re Windmill Networking!

You never know how one of these events turn out until you try it yourself.  My event in Portland was particularly interesting, as I met one of the Twitter Rockstars of Portland, @Thubten, someone who is famous in not only the social media circles of Portland but also Denver!  That led to another discussion where I learned a great deal about the LinkedIn Rockstar, Mike O’Neil!  See this video for the details…and should you create your own Event based on this advice, please tell us how it went by commenting below!

About the Author:

Neal Schaffer, Founder and Editor-In-Chief

The Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Maximize Social Business, Neal Schaffer is a leader in helping businesses and professional strategically maximize their use of social media. Neal is the author of three social media books, including the recently published definitive social media strategy book Maximize Your Social. Forbes lists him as a Top 35 Social Media Power Influencer and AdAge lists his blog, Maximize Social Business (formerly known as Windmill Networking), as a top 100 global marketing blog. Neal provides social media strategy consulting and coaching, having worked with Fortune 500 companies and a Grammy-award winning musician. He has presented worldwide on social media at more than 150 events and also teaches social media marketing at Rutgers University. +Neal Schaffer

Neal Schaffer
The Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Maximize Social Business, Neal Schaffer is a leader in helping businesses and professional strategically maximize their use of social media. Neal is the author of three social media books, including the recently published definitive social media strategy book Maximize Your Social. Forbes lists him as a Top 35 Social Media Power Influencer and AdAge lists his blog, Maximize Social Business (formerly known as Windmill Networking), as a top 100 global marketing blog. Neal provides social media strategy consulting and coaching, having worked with Fortune 500 companies and a Grammy-award winning musician. He has presented worldwide on social media at more than 150 events and also teaches social media marketing at Rutgers University. +Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer
Social Fresh West

Comments

  1. says

    That's really good tips Neal, I am just in the process of promoting events in London. We are using Eventbrite for the ticketing and promoting across Linkedin/Facebook/Twitter.

  2. says

    Always a pleasure to hear from you, Jorgen, and thanks for the tips. Yes, most people use Eventbrite with Facebook and Twitter, but I find a lot of people don't include LinkedIn in the mix. Hopefully that will change!

  3. says

    Neal, you continue to inspire me with your energy and passion for meeting new people. Was great to have you in town. My next blog post will be “how to travel the world on just a bottle of gin and a LinkedIn account” (inspired by Neal!)

    The Other Guy to Follow @JoshuaWaldman

  4. says

    Joshua,

    One of the highlights of my Portland trip was in meeting you. And even though your car broke down and you didn't make it out to our event, you were instrumental in helping to make it a success. Thank you, and looking forward to your blog post!!!

  5. says

    Neal, you continue to inspire me with your energy and passion for meeting new people. Was great to have you in town. My next blog post will be “how to travel the world on just a bottle of gin and a LinkedIn account” (inspired by Neal!)

    The Other Guy to Follow @JoshuaWaldman

  6. says

    Joshua,

    One of the highlights of my Portland trip was in meeting you. And even though your car broke down and you didn't make it out to our event, you were instrumental in helping to make it a success. Thank you, and looking forward to your blog post!!!

  7. Doreen Hathaway says

    Neal,

    I appreciated the opportunity to actually meet you — after following your blog avidly and picking up on your event via LI events function. Looking forward to more conversations. We hope to get you to Portland again soon!

    Please comment on how LinkedIn contacts can help get the word out on events by updating profiles with comments and otherwise alerting their networks. Just ask!

    Doreen Hathaway
    Portland, Oregon

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