On 27 February 2020, COMUNICA participated in its first LocDrinks event which is a part of the LocLunch networking scheme. Through our participation, we succeeded in getting a new client and establishing connections with translation industry players from across the Costa del Sol.

Following such a successful event, we decided to write this blog post to talk in more detail about the origins, the present, and the future of these meetings. We got in touch with the mastermind behind the LocLunch concept, Jan Hinrichs, who was more than happy to chat with us and answer our questions:

1. Do you remember how LocLunch & LocDrinks began?

“Of course. It is probably the one story I have told the most over the last 22 months. The first LocLunch took place in January 2019 when I was in Hamburg, my home town. I had been living and working in Madrid, Spain, since 2005, but in 2018-2019, my family and I decided to do something crazy and spend a year in Hamburg so that my kids could dive into German culture and so we could see what it would be like for us to live and work in Hamburg.”

“But I quickly realized that I hardly knew anybody from the local translation and localisation industry there. It was a strange feeling because I typically attend a few conferences each year and felt that I had been travelling the world to chat with fellow professionals about the perils of our industry. So I reached out and ended up having lunch and sharing experiences with three others.”

“The name LocLunch sounded just right. I decided to repeat the concept on an upcoming trip to Berlin and I spread the word on LinkedIn with a picture and the story of our Hamburg meeting. The response was overwhelming, with people asking me to do the same in other places, too.”

“This was how a global community was born.”

2. What structure do the meetings take?

“Obviously, I couldn’t physically travel the world and have lunch with everybody, so I encouraged my connections to hold events in their own cities. All they needed to set up and run a LocLunch event was a date, a venue in an accessible location, and an inclusive no-pitch approach to starting a trustful conversation.”

“After another very successful LocLunch in Berlin, events were held in other cities such as Barcelona, Milan, Kiev, Nijmegen, and Utah as well. We experimented with different frequencies, but the once-a-month cycle seemed the best option for our LocLunchers and ambassadors. By the end of March, we had already held 15 LocLunches.”

“The date, starting time, and duration of each LocLunch is always ‘localised’ to whatever best suits each ambassador and community. Anything held before 5 pm usually goes by the name of LocLunch and after that it becomes LocDrinks.”

“The people who organise LocLunches are our LocLunch ambassadors. They are movers and shakers with an open-mindset who believe in the power of communities and networking to learn and progress together.”

“To become an ambassador, applicants simply need to fill out a form at www.loclunch.net and possess a genuine interest in building up a local network. I usually do the on-boarding of new ambassadors and help them get started. We use Slack to coordinate and discuss how the community works.”

“The people who attend a LocLunch event are our LocLunchers – professionals from within and around our industry who are interested in meeting peers and learning new things. LocLunches are always associated with a particular place or city, never a whole country, so as to enable as many local communities as possible. The more extensive the network, the better it becomes for everybody.” 

“LocLunches are all about having a conversation with others on the topics that are most relevant to participants. There is not usually a set agenda but rather topics emerge based on the curiosity and challenges of the participants in attendance.”

3. Does it cost anything to take part?

“That is the beauty of LocLunch. The only thing you need to pay for is your own meal and the cost of getting there. To take part in a virtual LocLunch, the only expense is the cost of your Internet connection.”

“Traveling to offline conferences around the world has been expensive and a privilege for a few. But with LocLunch, and especially with virtual ones, there are almost no entry barriers to joining the conversation and getting connected.”

4. How are LocLunch and LocDrinks adapting to COVID-19 restrictions?

“Covid put a hold on almost all our physical LocLunches worldwide. Health and security come first. After a few weeks into our various lockdowns, we started to embrace virtual LocLunches over Zoom and other video conferencing tools.”

“It felt a bit strange at first but we soon discovered a whole new dimension and community dynamic. Suddenly, physical distances and travel times were no longer a restraint. Virtually travelling the world and tapping into local and global communities has opened a steady stream of new connections and opportunities for everybody involved.”

5. What do you think the future holds for LocLunch and LocDrinks?

“LocLunch is the perfect excuse to learn, to meet new people and to tap into business opportunities around the world.”

“So far, we have seen LocLunches in 50 countries – a quarter of all sovereign nations recognised by the UN. That means we are at 25 percent of being truly global. The Southern hemisphere has not yet been properly connected to the conversation. This is something we are actively working to change through LocLunch and something that I am personally very excited about. Such growth will surely bring a great deal of exciting developments in its wake.”

“Our central philosophy remains the same: enabling people to get connected and to join the conversation in order to help our industry progress.”

At COMUNICA, we thank you, Jan, for your time! It’s been great getting to learn more about LocLunch and LocDrinks. We hope to see you soon at a LocLunch or LocDrinks (most likely in virtual form)! And remember, if you’re ever in need of some Nordic wisdom, simply get in touch with us!