LetsLunch brings Online Networking OFFLINE -- bout damned time somebody went old school on networking
If you're like me, then your social profiles haven't done anything to your business life other than imploring you to waste valuable working hours looking at random acquaintances' mobile uploads of their cats. Enter LetsLunch.
LetsLunch is a new networking tool that blends the ease of online networking with the practical use of actual networking. And, its as easy as 1-2-3. Literally!
# If you have a LinkedIn profile already you've got step 1 done (if you don't you can create one or use a LetsLunch account).
# Step 2 is to tell the system what days you are free for lunch -- after which it will send you an email with your possible lunch matches and restaurants within a convenient distance for both parties.
# Take a guess at step 3 (hint: its delicious, entertaining and gives you something to do over your lunch hour).
The simple-to-use system is slightly more advanced than it sounds though as it includes 'reputations', VIPs, and tips n' tricks to maximize its potential.
I recently got the opportunity to (virtually) chat with LetsLunch creator Syed Shuttari, and I picked the creative entrepreneur's brain to create a detailed how-to guide of sorts:
For anyone not familiar with the service, could you briefly describe how LetsLunch works?
LetsLunch stands for "the easiest way to meet new people" and all you have to do is create an account then either connect your LinkedIn account or select your interests, next choose your lunch radius and time slots you are available..and we will start emailing you the people you should have lunch with, 2 days before the lunch is scheduled.
LetsLunch uses LinkedIn profiles to begin networking, a service that was designed for digital networking; what inspired you to create a service to bring online networking offline?
I was working in downtown San Fran for a corporate job and for 5 years straight I was eating out with the same colleagues or by myself. At the same time I would see thousands of smart, savvy, ambitious people in the same place and thought of a lunch rotation system that would have you meet other interesting people to grow your network, brainstorm new ideas, research topics or collaborate on a future project by meeting people in person--something akin to Googling or chatting online.
How do you feel that LetsLunch improves upon the digital networking experience?
Users have said that we are what LinkedIn should have been, because you see people who have 500 contacts on LinkedIn but its just a one time process of adding people to your list. LetsLunch however works totally opposite of that... first you have to meet someone and only then are they added to your contacts.
Even now every day I receive over a dozen requests on LinkedIn to add people as connection; these are people that I've never met--and moreover, I receive a generic message.
What is your marketing plan to increase awareness and visibility of the service?
We already launched in Italy and have plans to launch in India, UK, France and Germany. Besides this we are moving in a direction where LetsLunch will be your platform for any lunching need, whether meeting an existing friend, someone new for research, hiring, or for mentoring purpose. In addition we have plans to add coffee, dinner, and brunch networking features.
What parameters do you use to match people for the lunch meetings?
We take your lunch radius into account and match that with who is available that day, we then sort those with what interests they have. Also, we have an internal rating system to match people who are in similar leagues.
Our ratings and matching algorithm is updated frequently to cater to new requirements and to overall enhance it.
What benefits do you envision for Let's Lunch users?
They say its not about what you know, but who you know and based on this principle it opens avenues for you. Lets say you meet a person for lunch and maybe he is not what you are looking for but you may know 20 other people in his network, so by building relationships in-person first you are maximizing your true reach. There is no substitute for a handshake.
What type of people can users hope to network with using your service?
Through out service users can get a new job and meet hiring managers, meet other engineers, entrepreneurs or other like-minded people in their field; in short the service is for highly ambitious people, who tend to naturally flock together.
How does your VIP program work?
You can add the movers and shakers of technology to your wishlist and if you go on at least 4 lunches within a month you qualify to meet these VIPs. Also our ratings system finds people who are rated highly and thus decides the winners.
How is your service customizable to its users?
We allow you to create your own profile, pictures, show the available lunch dates and choose your own unique URL, like I have at LetsLunch.com/Syed, which you can use on your blog, social media profile or to simply have other people request lunches with you.
* LetsLunch is launching in India soon.