LinkedIn LockedOut

Tennis%20August%2016%2C%202009%20057Mugshot400X400.jpg By Tony Patterson

LinkedIn has been locked out of a global movement that is taking its own biznet platform to another dimension. In just under a year some 50,000 LinkedIn members have come together at meetings in 250 cities from Australia to Canada, the United States, India, Scotland, Poland, Peru, Spain, Denmark and more than two dozen other countries. They’ve been assembled by a youthful pick-up gang using LI’s platform to bring face-to-face interaction to the social media universe. Only LinkedIn itself is absent.

LinkedIn Local was born in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia. Anna McAfee, a digital consultant and mother of two pre-schoolers, used #linkedinlocal to invite her LI connections out for coffee in the town best known for bananas, berries and fisheries. Eighteen people showed up on June 2, 2017. But the hashtag also attracted responses from elsewhere. As Anna writes on the LinkedIn Local website, “To my surprise, a lot of people reacted to the post, not only the 18 people who showed up, but also people in other cities around the world. One of them was Erik Eklund. Within an hour of posting he wrote me saying he would host a similar meetup in Brussels, Belgium. After him, Alexandra Galviz in London, United Kingdom, and Manu Goswami in New York City. The word spread quickly. One of Manu’s post about the concept became one of the most viewed posts on LinkedIn with 1.4 million views.”

It wasn’t that LinkedIn Corp. didn’t notice. Not long after the earliest LIlocal meetups the CEO of LI, Jeff Weiner, posted “Cool to see how well received this was . . . we may need to start thinking about developing tools to facilitate this kind of activity.” The post was copied directly to Ryan Roslansky, Sr. VP for product. Since then silence. Scansite’s queries to Weiner and Roslansky about whether any progress has been made in this regard have gone unanswered, as have calls for comment to a handful of other LI sources.

McAfee believes LI has been taken somewhat by surprise by the rapidly growing popularity of the local events. Meanwhile the company is getting brand exposure at no cost. “We’ve started a dialogue,” says Ryan Troll, a Washington-based entrepreneur and ironman triathlete, “and we’re hoping for productive engagement with the team behind their platform.”

Hoping but not waiting. Four of the co-founders have formed the LinkedIn Local Team to provide some assistance and bring some order to the proliferating meetups, each of which is organized locally by volunteers. Quick to disclaim any connection with the company, the Team declares, “We are neither working for nor on behalf of LinkedIn the company. LinkedIn has allowed us to expand our social and professional networks online yet not as much offline, hence, the purpose of the LinkedIn Local meetups [is] to add value to our online communities.”

The Team’s ambition, if truth be told, is larger than LinkedIn. Not in dollars,certainly. LI was sold less than two years ago to Microsoft for $26 billion. The LI Local Team plans to incorporate as a non-profit, possibly as a cooperative. But it is already thinking of growing beyond LinkedIn by taking its meetup formula to other social media sites. “To a certain extent we are all hidden behind our profiles on social media,” says Troll. “We are creating an environment where people are willing to talk about their dreams and passions, like meeting up with our friends."

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