It’s no rocket science that building relationships is best done offline.
And that’s what we were able to prove in Subic’s first LinkedIn Local Meetup with the topic, “Nurturing Authentic Connections in the Digital Age.”
In a space full of people who all met for the first time, it wouldn’t be surprising if crickets would be heard from time to time and only the panel of guests and host (me, in this case) would do all the talking till the the end of a 3-hour timeframe.
It wasn’t the case in this meetup, and that’s what made it more memorable.
Within just a few minutes upon starting the meetup proper, it was apparent that the people instantly connected. Not just because they wanted to meet and take selfies with Virginia Bautista or Jeff Manhilot, or just hear #buhaynanay blogger Mitch Carvalho talk, or see Karissa Javier (for the freelancers who want to become digital nomads like her) in person, or learn more about becoming a VA from Rochefel Rivera. It was more than that.
Audience participation was a great part in this LinkedIn Local Meetup. They merely did not introduce themselves by saying their names and what they do for a living. Each had a story to tell through their vision, core values, and tagline. And people identified more with this kind of introduction, making authentic connections more possible.
The laid back, non-conference setup made it more conducive for each participant to just be themselves and engage with anyone and everyone in the room. Not to mention that the place was set up by the beach. Chef Mark, who owns a culinary school inside SBMA even cracked a joke saying that he thought he was attending his AA session.
Even Abigail and her husband, who are running a small business of making native bahay kubo for restaurants were quite hesitant at first to introduce themselves as business owners (I actually had the privilege to chat with them prior to the event, and they merely wanted to introduce themselves as freelancers, yet convinced them to introduce themselves as business owners instead), got the attention of the whole room when they introduced their business tagline as, “Bahay Kubo, bahay na may puso.”
Engagement instantly happens when one goes beyond the who-are-you-and-what-do-you-do type of introduction. Knowing what one believes in makes authenticity more possible, making connections with strangers more real, more human.
Even retired Colonel Elnora Bernardino, who has admitted at the meetup that she has had the traditional, structured orientation, opened herself to new ways and ideas on how to connect now that she is reinventing her lifestyle as a leisure farm owner.
Despite the difference in education, orientation and background, everyone had the common goal: to connect and make it AUTHENTIC.
Virginia Bautista, the lead panelist, despite being featured twice in Forbes’ online magazine, became even more interesting to the audience when she shared her transitional journey from switching as a professor in the academe and became an independent LinkedIn trainer.
Jeff Manhilot, who is also an amazing leadership coach and a LinkedIn advocate, became more endearing to the audience when he took his turn to talk after Virginia and jokingly said, “Nasabi na po nyang lahat” and made the audience laugh. Even his idea for the bahay kubo makers of turning it into a collapsible, modular type made people remember him more (And yes, I know as I still talk to them!).
Mitch Carvalho, while a blogger of 11 years and the creator of Mitchteryosa.com, shared her blogging journey – the challenges, the stumbling blocks, the mistakes – before she finally captured the hearts of her audience and became known for her #buhaynanay Facebook and blog posts.
Rochefel Rivera, who is known for her #VApreneur hashtag, connected with the virtual assistants as well in the audience.
Karissa Javier, known by freelancers as the 3rd World Nomad, shared not just her story on how she eventually got to live the “digital nomad lifestyle” but also her short stint and mishaps in the BPO industry.
While LinkedInLocal was originally established with the intent to meet the personalities behind LinkedIn connections, it paved a way to be more than just that. It became an avenue to establish one’s authenticity through one’s own values, beliefs, personal experiences and even mistakes. Again, it is through these unique traits and flaws that makes a connection more genuine.
And one can only make genuine connections offline. In the real world.