A Dungannon solicitor is bringing businesses together with a new networking initiative that helps them to develop online connections offline.
‘TweetMeetEat’ encourages traders throughout Mid Ulster and across the province to continue the conversations they have on Twitter in face-to-face meet-ups.
These can either be hosted by one of the participating businesses, or held in a restaurant.
The first TweetMeetEat networking dinner took place in Ballycastle last November, with eight businesses attending an informal meal hosted by The Woman Next Door, aka Sarah-Jane Bell.
The evening gave attendees the chance to physically shake hands with some of the businesses they’d already connected with online during weekly networking hour #nistartupshour.
TweetMeetEat dinners have since taken place in Moira, Magherafelt and most recently, in Belfast.
The man behind both #nistartupshour and #TweetMeetEat is solicitor Shane McCann, a partner at Simmons Meglaughlin & Orr LLP in Dungannon.
He said: “Everyone communicates online these days, which is good, but you don’t always get to know the person behind the profile. “I thought it would be good to have some events where people could get to know the faces behind the Twitter profiles.”
Mr McCann was inspired to launch #nistartupshour in June 2015, following the success of other business hours, including #BelfastHour, which is on Thursdays between 9-10pm.
During the hour, traders across Northern Ireland use the hashtag #BelfastHour to network, chatting about their business, offering advice and generally socalising.
The idea is to help businesses build brand awareness and connect with potential customers, as well as sharing advice.
Mr McCann decided to set up #nistartupshour however, to specifically support start-up businesses.
It takes place every Tuesday night between 9-10pm.
“I do a lot of commercial work with businesses - small and medium-size,” said Mr McCann. “I also work with small start-ups and I noticed that in Northern Ireland there aren’t always very many opportunities for them to network.
“I’d come across the Twitter business hours - in England and also #BelfastHour - and thought it would be good to have something specific for small businesses and start-ups.”