#SMEcommunity – an inspiring idea that “viraled” beyond belief in a tiny country that possesses a HUGE business community.
Last year, I attended the #Birr2012 tweetup, which really was a full-scale conference and with amazingly beneficial seminars. Here’s what happened:
Day 1 – June 2011 – over on Twitter
It began with a tweet or two, 2 entrepreneurs chatting and supporting each other one evening. Then more tweeps hopped into the conversation. The hashtag #SMEcommunity was created to continue the conversation the following day, and it trended that day. Very quickly the conversation spilled over into counties all over Ireland, which provoked a dedicated twitter account @SMEcommunity_ie. Small businesses around Ireland began to take notice, and within weeks, tweetups and networking events began to spring up all over the country. The ethos of the “conversation” was INFORMAL and SUPPORTIVE.
Interest filtered in from abroad, and online at least, the #SMEcommunity became a global community.
A tweetup transpires
On Friday, Jan 27th, after numerous local events, a national #tweetup was organised. A single tweet went out looking for suggestions for a possible “central” location. A reply came back immediately from the County Arms Hotel, Birr, Co. Offaly to offer their entire premises for the tweetup. The location was perfect as Birr is practically in the centre of Ireland.
So what exactly went on there?
Just like 100 other entrepreneurs, I cleared my calendar for the day. The start time was 11am with a light structure to the day and went on into the evening as some decided to “stay over”. Again, a single tweet from me to the SMEcommunity on twitter secured a lift for part of the way. What better way to meet another entrepreneur, than share their car for part of the trip? Thankfully, Lara and I had lots to discuss during the journey.
On arrival, we were greeted by the wonderful team that put in HUGE effort to ensure this day went smoothly.Debbie, Be, Debi and Sharon welcomed us and provided wonderful stickers to write our twitter ID and name, donated by another business.
Promos, treats and sweets
Promos, treats, discounts and freebies were doing the rounds all day. The generosity and selfless provision was evident on this wonderful day of mutual positive support. There were a few hard sells floating around, but they were absolutely swamped and absorbed by the counteract of mutual kindness, caring and emotional support.
Many businesses actually admitted to the dire straits they were in, but left that day knowing they were not alone, and more importantly there was a support system out there that they could tap into as quickly as typing a tweet.
Kehlan Kirwan of FocuSMEireland and The Small Business Show Podcasts kicked off the session and introduced George Mordaunt, author of Shepherd’s Pie. George provided an account on what happened to him during the boom years in Ireland, what happened when everything crashed, and provides some hard earned lessons! Unfortunately for him, his dirty laundry came out in the wash more recently, according to an Irish Examiner report.
Lunchtime comprised an easy collective chatter. I felt like I was at a wedding, it was so relaxing (without the wine of course). After lunch, there was a session with Vincent Byrne of Business Should Be Easy. Vincent has a simple but effective way of taking care of business in a way that will deliver results. He shared an easy 5-step takeaway useful for any business looking for their own direction. Check out his iCard 4S Problem Busting App
Vincent also encouraged us to write down a figure that we want our business to make this year. He then invited us to double it. By doubling our wish, we have a better chance of reaching the first figure. Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?
So what is different about this tweetup, what put us apart from the standard network meetings? On Jan 27th 2012, the County Arms Hotel was full of a wonderful sense of familiarity that can often take a lot longer when we abide by the normal channels of meeting other entrepreneurs. With online communities like SMEcommunity and TweakYourBiz there is more support out there for business owners than ever before. There is no excuse not to avail of free information, empathetic support and mutual respect.
On Jan 25th2013 the #SMEcommunity will descend on Birr, Co. Offaly again. If you are thinking of setting up in business, or already are in business, this one day networking and seminar event is for you! It will be time and resources well spent!
The wonderful Eamonn O’Brien, founder of The Reluctant Speakers Club, will provide us with plenty of tips on how to get your pitch across and make sure your business is noticed – a presentation you will not want to miss! Laura Ryder, a journalist with the Offaly Independent, will also speak about Press Releases from a journalist’s point of view. Laura will share tips and advice and answer questions. There will be some officials and politicians there too, just in case you fancy a little stress-busting!
Also, if you are struggling and have run out of “creative” ideas, simply tap into the support systems available to you. There are cost-effective ways to learn and gain inspiration about your future, in a positive way!