Isn’t It About Time – to be ‘No Longer Virtual’?

–Let's Connect beyond the Keyboard

After more than two years of interacting on LinkedIn, Karthik Rajan and I finally scheduled a phone call.

It was a Friday afternoon when my caller ID showed Karthik’s name and number. Just seeing the name on my phone put a huge grin on my face. I felt my heart pound a bit harder, and my face flushed. As I answered my phone: “This is Sarah,” I felt a rush of adrenaline, like a celebrity was on the line. That’s how it felt — like one of my favorite musicians or actors had just picked up the phone and called me. I realized I was holding my breath.

“Hi Sarah, it’s Karthik!” In his melodic voice, I could imagine his face, the smile in his picture on LinkedIn came right through the phone, exactly as I had imagined he would sound.

After only a few minutes, I found myself falling into conversation as if we had known each other for years. You’ve been there, right? When you speak with someone for the first time, but you feel a strong connection, as if you’ve been friends forever?

An hour later, I realized I needed to go. My family was waiting for me for dinner and to start our weekend. It was hard to say goodbye, the conversation had been so encouraging, so full of positive energy and warmth. I couldn’t wait to find another opportunity to call.

All weekend I found myself grinning and full of optimism. When I woke up on Sunday morning, I was on fire. I hadn’t known something so true, so compelling in a long time. It was time to hire myself. It was time to meet Karthik and the others with whom I felt such strong connections. I wanted a chance to see them face-to-face, to learn from them, to grow with them, and to brainstorm ways to help others.

That week, I reached out to a handful of my close connections, the ones I knew had experience and topics to share that would complement my love for coaching people in storytelling. Every one of them responded with enthusiasm; thrilled with the idea and purpose. A few weeks later, a draft agenda was distributed and all confirmed participation.

I have rarely been more excited to put hours and hours of my time and energy into a project. What’s more impressive is that every one of the facilitators agreed to forego their regular conference rate for that first NLV event in 2017. The first NLV was in Atlanta in 2017, the second in Denver in 2018, and the third in Atlanta in 2019. The conference was twice mentioned in Forbes as a “Can’t Miss Conference for Entrepreneurs”, this will be year four! And here we go again, gearing up for yet another game-changing “no longer virtual” experience, this time in Chicago (March 12, 13, 2020). With only 50 guests, we will all have opportunities to truly connect with every person in attendance.

Let’s meet face-to-face. Let’s learn from each other, and let’s find ways to leverage our online relationships to improve our in-person lives and communities. Build and nurture your online network to benefit your offline life.

That’s the focus of No Longer Virtual 2020. Register today, I can’t wait to meet you! ⤵︎



Sarah Elkins
Sarah Elkins
Sarah is a communication coach, Gallup certified Strengths coach, keynote speaker, writer, and professional musician. Sarah uses storytelling as the foundation of her work with management teams and individual clients to improve communication and relationships. Her podcast, Your Stories Don’t Define You, How You Tell Them Will focuses on storytelling themes, the primary concept being that the stories you choose to tell - and how you choose to tell them - impact your internal messages and the perception of those around you. Her podcast was named in the top 50 in the category of emotional intelligence on Her passion for connecting people and helping them learn to better connect with others is embodied in the events she hosts, No Longer Virtual, which are small, interactive conferences based on the theme of connecting beyond the keyboard, recognized twice by Forbes as “Can’t Miss Events for Entrepreneurs” in 2017 & 2018.

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  1. Loving the idea Sarah. I wish you continued success…which I am sure will happen, as you have a great foundation on which to build. The lovely part of what you are doing is the simplicity…gather a few folks, who feel the same way, together and create a safe space for connection to turn to relationship. Colin

    • Thank you for the comment, Colin. It is a simple concept, I think. What I love about it the most is that the structure truly leverages the experience in the room. Everyone has something to contribute, and people have the opportunity to do that in each session. It’s as if the entire summit is the series of side conversations where you find the gold in traditional conferences!

  2. Sarah, all things internet make getting one’s foot in the door easier. Networking online is great. However, none of this can come close to matching the potential when two people meet face to face. When I recruit I try to use all resources available. A face to face person to person meeting can be such a difference-maker. Thank you, Sarah, for writing and sharing your article.

  3. This is pure genius. I have only attended one third of the NLV conferences, the one in 2018, and just from those short two days I connected with some of my all time favorite people, and that circle of friends are special to me in ways that I cannot express. You get to know people on LinkedIn and maybe you’ve been fortunate enough, or intentional enough, to do a phone or video call with them. When you can sit at a table with them over the course of a few of these sessions, or share a meal or beverage with them, and share time and each other’s stories with them, you reach another level of connection.

    Sarah, it doesn’t surprise me that you’ve come up with one of the most truly inspired ideas since, well… OK, ever, but what does surprise me is how these people have become such an important part of my life. I guess it shouldn’t surprise me, as of course Sarah would surround herself with high quality, interesting and fascinating people. I will be there in Chicago, without question. I love how Melissa Hughes, Ph. D. phrased it: “This is more than networking. It’s supporting endeavors, developing strategies for growth, and celebrating successes far beyond the conference. I cannot recommend highly enough!”

    • It will be great to have you back at #nlv, Tom! What I love most about it is, of course, the people who show up, engaged and generous. What I also love, though, is that because of the nature of the sessions – no keynotes – every person contributes their knowledge, experience, and ideas to every session. This group truly leverages the experience in the room to make a more robust, relevant discussion of topics.

      Cannot wait for #nlvchicago2020!

  4. As someone who has attended every single NLV conference, I can honestly say that this is one I wouldn’t miss. Sarah, I’m not sure that you really knew what you were creating when this was just a concept in your head. But the relationships I’ve built because of your brainchild are priceless.

    I can’t say it any simpler: This is more than networking. It’s supporting endeavors, developing strategies for growth, and celebrating successes far beyond the conference. I cannot recommend highly enough!