VIRTUAL NETWORKING turned into reality for one night only as more than 60 business from across the borough swapped their laptops for a social event.
Oldham Hour brings together companies online on Twitter every Monday from 9-10pm to chat from the comfort of their own homes and currently has more than 2,700 followers.
But around 80 businessmen and women from the group, which was set up in April 2014, met in person this month rather than behind their screens for just the second time.
Those attending ranged from architects, photographers, graphic designers, solicitors, estate agents, web designer, retailers and PR consultants, to cake makers, caterers and charities.
Lee Hollinworth, who runs Whittaker Design in Lees and is one of the founders of OldhamHour, said: “There’s quite a lot of banter, but in the main, sharing of information about events and business opportunities.
“It’s a really busy night which is really gaining momentum. Often an hour isn’t long enough and many find they are online afterwards catching up on conversations.
“It’s a friendly meeting place for businesses, event organisers and the people of Oldham.
“Many participants have gained good connections, started working together, refer work to each other, or have simply gained new clients.”
Chris Stansfield, from Brokenpencil Ltd in Royton, praised the group as it allows him to meet similar businesses for advice and help, as well as attract new customers.
He said: “Due to work commitments I don’t get chance to get out and network very much whereas giving one hour a week to #Oldhamhour allows me to do just that.
“I’ve found a good core of businesses who want to interact and help each other. I find if someone needs help quickly someone will jump on it or suggest someone who can.
“I have got business through #Oldhamhour and have made lots of new contacts – some which will grow into good business relationships both as supplier and customer.”
And Victoria Lang-Whiston from Lang Whiston Estates in Shaw is delighted with the way the network helps businesses connect and generate work for each other.
“#Oldhamhour has been a great place of referral for us,” she said. “Lee suggested us to one of his clients who wanted to sell a rental property and his own home.
“This customer has subsequently referred us onto other people too – all of which can be credited to the #Oldhamhour connection.”
Launched by a small group of business owners, who already engaged heavily in social media for their own business profiles, the Oldham Hour twitter account has grown by a further 900 followers in the last six months.
Find Oldham Hour on Twitter @Oldham_Hour or connect by using #oldhamhour hashtag