Chapter 5 Excerpt: Stories from LinkedIn Live

Author’s note:  In a round about way, someone suggested I’m giving away the store by posting chapters on my site.  I don’t agree.  What do you think?

Particular stories from LinkedIn Live – my in-person networking event that attracts 250 people to each function

LinkedIn Live Raleigh started in July of 2007 as a way to meet my LinkedIn connections that lived in the Raleigh area all at once. I was having coffee with Wes Elder, a good friend now – and getting to know what previously had been an online only connection. We both lamented that we were doing these “get to know you” coffees about 3 times a week and felt there had to be a better way. Thus LinkedIn Live was born.

Several things have contributed to the success of LinkedIn Live Raleigh – not the least of which was coverage by the Raleigh News & Observer by Sue Stock (also now a good friend) of the first meeting. The story landed on the front page of the business section and we have never looked back.

I am a true believer in two things: Word of Mouth marketing and the pay it forward philosophy (more on that in the next chapter). LinkedIn Live has enjoyed some amazing word of mouth, resulting in an increase in attendance from 50 to well over 300 in the past 18 months. No one thought it would grow like it has, especially not me.

But, at the heart of LinkedIn Live is our ability to pay it forward for so many in the local Raleigh area. It’s been a joy to put on the semi-monthly events and very gratifying to see how many lives it has touched.

While there may be a second book just on LinkedIn Live stories – I wanted to share a few here as an illustration of the power of LinkedIn – and paying it forward.

At each LinkedIn Live we give away a number of door prizes – dinners, tickets to concerts – that are, as I put it at a recent event – like playing Santa Claus. We have very generous door prize donors, and greatly appreciate them coming forward to help.

One giveaway was a certificate for $75 for a local restaurant. While you never know how this can impact someone, we soon found out. The winner of this prize was a gentleman who, after winning the prize, stopped my wife to explain why winning meant so much to him.

He told Stephanie: “I was just laid off last week, and was not in a great place. On top of that, my birthday AND my anniversary are less than 10 days away. Losing my job was preventing me from celebrating with my wife and family. This gift allows me to do so. It means SO much to me.”

Both Stephanie – when she heard this – and I – when she told me later about it – took this as validation of why we do what we do. If we can give back, through door prizes, bringing people into a room to network, or just helping them understand how to use LinkedIn better to network – we are blessed by the results.

Last summer, at a LinkedIn Live event, we gave away a special door prize that was in honor of Dress for Success – a national charity that helps women get work clothes for interviews and for their first week on the job. The winner of that prize came up to me afterwards and told me it must have been meant to be. “I’ve been trying to find the organizers of the local Dress for Success chapter,” he explained. “Our firm wants to donate to them on a regular basis but didn’t know who to contact. Now we do!”

With the recent downturn in the economy, networking – whether it be online or in-person – has become more important than ever. The ability to get out and meet contacts that can make the difference for you is key.

Our philosophy for continuing with LinkedIn Live has been simple – bring people together so they can help each other.

At last count, more than 40 people have found their current jobs as a result of meeting people at LinkedIn Live events. There have been 11 as of this writing. Countless numbers of business relationships have been formed – many resulting in business deals in the thousands of dollars.

To date, there are more than 20 LinkedIn Live events around the country, including Warsaw, Poland. Some of the organizers have contacting me before they started their events to get a few tips, but for the most part it has been a grass roots movement.

Now, here’s where I get to stand on my soap box. Stephanie and I were effectively unemployed for close to three years during the dot com bubble burst and 9/11. Every cent was precious to us, but we knew we had to network to find work.

Because of this, we are extremely sensitive to what finding a job can cost an individual. We have never charged a dime to attend a LinkedIn Live – and we never will. There are those who charge for “how to network” seminars and meetings on how to use LinkedIn. To me, that’s missing the true meaning of networking.

If you aren’t willing to pay it forward, put yourself out there and help someone – then you’re only in it for the money, and I believe that’s the wrong way of doing things.

*Stepping down off the soapbox*

One other side benefit of LinkedIn Live? Friendships that are deeper and more meaningful than if they were just online. As I mentioned in the last chapter, I truly believe it’s important to emphasize the “social” in social media.

My friends and I connect on line on a regular basis. But, a core group of us look forward to every other month’s LinkedIn Live to meet in person, have a drink and talk to each other face to face.

No computer program, newest app or video blogging application can ever replace a friend’s smile and handshake. That’s a treasure that can’t be programmed or coded.

The next chapter will discuss the pay it forward philosophy in detail, along with some personal examples that I have experienced – as well as others’ stories.

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One Response to “Chapter 5 Excerpt: Stories from LinkedIn Live”

  1. Greg Hyer says:

    Chuck, your success with LinkedIn Live Raleigh helped me open the door to become employed by iContact. But it does not stop there. These events have helped improve the awareness of developing a professional network so that when help is needed people know where the can turn to for help. Thank you for showing people what pay it forward means and letting them see it in action.

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