LinkedIn’s dark horse for events: Find Nearby

LinkedIn finally has an ‘events’ product. The product is simple enough – head to your profile and see the new ‘events’ tab on the left.

When you click on ‘events’, you get to create an event, much like Facebook Events. Only difference – this is a professional event and you’d be able to invite your professional connections, chat with them and so on.

Long overdue and useful.

However, a LinkedIn feature that could be immensely useful in professional events, but one that both event organizers and LinkedIn are not promoting adequately is ‘Find Nearby’.

It happened very recently at the PRAXIS8 event in Goa. A fellow attendee, Sanaj Natarajan, asked me how to enable the ‘Find Nearby’ feature on LinkedIn and we Googled it together to find out the exact method. The event’s MC, Kiruba Shankar, eventually came to know about it and invited me to the stage to demo the tool to all the attendees. Post that demo, I had at least 30+ attendees come and tell me that they had no clue about this feature and that they found it immensely helpful!

LinkedIn is already the new ‘business card exchange’ in professional events, given its ubiquity and always-on context, via the smartphone app. When you look up someone’s LinkedIn profile, it offers far more context to that person’s professional history and outlook than a mere business card. It also gives an opportunity for that person to explain about themselves far better in their own words, beyond what a business card can blurt out bare minimum contact details. In a way, you control your perception on LinkedIn, and if you have done a good job, your profile works in your favour.

‘Find Nearby’ works on Bluetooth, so the coverage in a large event is questionable. Most smartphones are Class 2 Bluetooth devices, so they have a range of about 33 feet. That’s good enough for medium-sized and smaller events, but can be handy even in large events where participants walk around.

It’s simple enough to enable.

  1. Enable Bluetooth on your phone
  2. Go to the LinkedIn app
  3. Hit the ‘My network’ icon
  4. Of the 3 options you get on the bottom right, the last one is ‘Find nearby’. Enable that.
    (The UI could be a bit different in iOS)

That’s it. You’d see profiles of people around you. You could go through their profiles, remember names and details for you to initiate a conversation, connect with them by sending an invite and so on.

For professional events, the MC reminding participants to enable ‘Find nearby’ on LinkedIn should be the first announcement as a matter of protocol. So, the next time you are in a professional event, do reach out to the MC, at any point during the event, and suggest that he/she make an announcement about LinkedIn ‘Find nearby’ and see your reputation soar!