I’ve yet to experience the glory or debauchery (depending on who you ask) of Clubhouse, but in the meantime, I’ve enjoying another invite-only club. Lunchclub has been around since 2017 but given the rise of remote work culture, its popularity is reaching new heights in the era of COVID-19. I’ve yet to have my first meeting (more on this in a sec), but so far, I’m liking what I see. Here’s what you should know about the networking platform.
The experience is built around your interests.
Upon signing into Lunchclub for the first time, you’ll be led through a series of prompts to build your profile. Besides the basics, you’re able to identify your interests, projects you may be working on, and other “conversation starters” to help with future intros—options include “Ask me about,” “Something I just learned,” and “Top of mind for me.”
You also have the option of setting your conversation starter to public or private, in case you want to keep something hush-hush until you’re ready to reveal. Additionally, you can add a profile photo, brief biography, and links to your LinkedIn and/or Twitter profiles.
You can make new connections as often as weekly.
Once your profile has been built, the networking begins! Think of them as virtual lunch breaks or happy hours. Each week, Lunchclub will prompt you to check-off dates/times that suit your schedule and from there, Lunchclub uses AI (artificial intelligence) to find suitable matches and set up meetings.
Up until last year, Lunchclub encouraged matches to meet in-person but soon switched to virtual Google Meets in lieu of the pandemic. According to one report, usage exploded to ten times the traffic it had pre-COVID.
Yes, you need an invite to join.
As of now, Lunchclub is an invite-only platform. Each Lunchclub member has a home feed or “Explore” page that shares the activity of your connections and prompts for providing a better experience. For example, the algorithm may ask “Which of these matches do you find most relevant?” followed by the name and short bio of two people. Once you make a choice, Lunchclub will note that preference to formulate better matches.
If your LinkedIn profile is connected to Lunchclub through your profile, the Explore page will also let you know if those people have connections on Lunchclub. And if they do, you can invite them to join Lunchclub with an automated or custom message. That being said, maintaining an active LinkedIn profile may increase your chances of getting on the platform.
Since joining Lunchclub last year, I’ve had countless meetings, where I’ve been able to gain support for research I’m doing in grad school, as well as provide opportunities for others. At the end of each meeting, I was asked to provide feedback, which continues to make my matches more relevant, too. With social distancing still in vogue, I look forward to seeing how this virtual networking opportunity will pan out. Stay tuned!
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