The Tweetup in Oxfordshire went well the other night. There were people from all over Oxfordshire and from around outside areas like Newbury. I arrived a bit late, so got there just in time for "Monday Night is Pie Night" (how can an American not attend that?) and spoke with some complete strangers.
There must have been about 50 people there. The demographic was mostly white and middle-aged and more affluent. Watching the local tweets, I know that Twitter is a big thing with younger secondary school kids. But this was not their scene.
The tweetup took place at a very nice restaurant called the Fallowfields Country House. From what I gather, the owner, Anthony Lloyd, is very big into technology and twitter. He blogs, tweets, and his restaurant has a nice website. He is definitely using this social networking trend very skilfully. I think his use of Twitter and blogging actually brings a lot of people to his fancy restaurant that would not travel out into this village regularly. I, being primarily a burger guy, would not have entered such a posh looking place on my own, but will probably bring the family back to to this place often. I didnât get much time to talk to Anthony, but he set up a nice evening and has a beautiful restaurant.
I showed up a bit late to the Tweetup. I was working later than I had hoped I would be, so I arrived at the tail end of the networking portion of the evening.
The natural wall-flower in me fought to take over, but I took a deep breath and jumped into a group of people having a conversation. This is always difficult. At networking-type events, like seminars and stuff, there are usually clusters of people standing around and it always looks like half of the people already know each other (they don’tâ they are just better at introducing themselves than I am), so you don’t really want to butt into a conversation. But the alternative is to stand and pretend to be reading stuff on your phone. So I jumped in there, "Hi, I’m Eric Wroolie. I’m going to pretend I’ve been standing in your group the whole time and maybe no one will notice." The conversation always goes to my accentâ and that gives me something to talk about. âWhy would you move to move out here?â âYouâre not Canadian are you?â âWell, you havenât lost your accent at all.â When asked what I do, I tell them I’m a software developer (although I’ve read enough to know I need an elevator pitch for this moment –âI work with small to medium-sized companies helping them with outsourcing software developmentâ â but it’s too hokey and I won’t do it).
I met one dentist who is using social networking to bring in more business and it seems to be working for him. I met a guy who told me he was a trainer, and since I used to work at Sea World as a kidâ I assumed he meant animal trainer, but he assured me he taught sales training and presentation skills. And, of course at this kind of event, I met other software people.
I sat down at a table with people who all knew each other. They were members of BNIâ a British networking group. I attended a BNI breakfast meeting years ago, and was sure they were going to try to persuade me to attend another one. I got the impression they attended a lot of these things all over the southwest. But most of the people I met weren’t career networkers, so it wasnât so bad.
It was a nice evening. The pie was fantastic. I met some nice people. Not one business card was exchangedâso it felt lower on the sleazy factor. If you have a tweetup in your area, it might be worth considering attending.