I bet you thought this post was going to be about localising, didn’t you? Sorry to disappoint you if you were expecting a blog post on the difficulties of localising love poetry or the latest Mills & Boon novel (oooh, I would love to do that though!) But no, this post is about my love for keeping it local.

In the past few weeks I’ve been doing a lot of local networking; that’s been a combination of some local “hours” on Twitter, networking events and co-working. I thought a blog post on my thoughts on each of these methods might be fun.

Local Twitter hours

I started off “attending” a local Twitter networking hour last summer. I’d heard about #BelfastHour and decided to check it out – it runs from 9pm – 10pm each Thursday and its main aim is to connect local businesses and get people talking. It’s run by Edwards & Company, a local legal firm, based in Belfast; a company, by all accounts, with a genuine interest in chatting and linking up with local people. I’ve found it to be a really fun, engaged hour and I’ve met a lot of people through it and found out about several local initiatives. I think the right way to view it is an opportunity to find out about what other local businesses are doing and anything else is a bonus! For translators, and others who primarily work from home, isolation is often a big problem, so having a locally focused online event makes it more likely that meaningful local connections might emerge from the laughs and banter! Since #BelfastHour started last year, I’ve noticed lots more local Twitter hours, #FermanaghHour, #DownHour, #GalwayHour, to name a few. It’s worth checking out of there are any local Twitter hours for your locale.

Local Networking Events

It’s been through #BelfastHour that I’ve found out about most of the networking events I’ve attended. Getting out and about and meeting local people has been invaluable, not just for the getting-away-from-my-desk appeal, but for talking to other businesses about the challenges they’re facing. I’ve been lucky that at all of the events I’ve been to so far, everyone has been interested, first and foremost, with talking to new people. We’ve all been to networking events when the telltale eye-glaze descends as soon as the person you’re talking to realises that you’re not a potential customer – the local events I’ve attended had a different feel; the attendees were truly interested in finding out about everyone else as people and then, if they thought they could, how to help them. Whether it’s linking a start up with an accountant; a delivery company with a fleet car specialist or a restaurateur with a local wine merchant, there’s something to be said for the power of local.

Co-Working initiatives

In perfect symmetry, it was through the networking events that I then heard about the co-working initiatives taking place around Northern Ireland. I linked up with Dawn from Sensei at the Thrive Newtownabbey event and she told me about a co-working venture she was working on, called WabiSabi. I attended one of their events last week at The MAC, which was all about building a co-working community and figuring out what co-workers want. I also found out about other co-working events in Northern Ireland, like the well-established Hub in Newry, which I’m going to pop into on the way to a meeting in Dundalk next month.  As for contacts made during the day, I met accountants, career coaches, business development experts, SEO specialists, web designers….the list goes on. Co-working is something that many of my US-based translator colleagues rave about and I’ve always been jealous of the community they become a part of. Working from home offers unparalleled freedom when it comes to working hours, but sometimes, it’s nice to share a coffee with a colleague and chat about nothing in particular. I’m very excited about finally being able to become a co-worker!

Loving local

As you might have gleaned from this post, I have loved becoming more active in the local business community. Interactions on Twitter have a different feel when it’s somebody you can (and hopefully will) meet in person; local networking events give you the chance to meet a whole host of different people that, in the digital world, you’d maybe not think to connect with, and the co-working option offers you the chance to be somebody’s colleague, something I know many sole traders miss. And what about the possibility to make meaningful, and potentially fee earning, connections? I like to view that as the surprisingly amazing side dish to the main meal of meeting new friends and associates. I think it’s important to enter into the local world with a friendly, engaged and approachable attitude and with your helpful hat on. It’s often said that people do business with people, and I think that’s very true. So get out there!

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