It is cliche but I have made great connections on Twitter. There are some exceptional minds out there and I always aim to learn from people. Through my Twitter feed I have access to people in my industry in a way that I would not have ten years ago after completing my GCSE’s. In a sector where climbing the ladder is part and parcel of your career. Knowing the right people can sometimes determine how far you go. Social Media and going digital can make a difference to this.
Back in April I attended a Sport & Recreation Alliance event in central London. It was the launch of their Directors’ Club. The only reason I was able to attend this event was because a tweet was sent out. I had no other link or contact so I took initiative. The lack of access to information about these events for the younger generation is a challenge that has to be addressed. It was also a chance for me to meet the Editor of The Leisure Review whom I had written a couple of articles for without ever meeting. That is the funny thing with Social Media, you can admire what people do from afar and just know that you connect on a number of issues. Social Media has enabled us to collaborate with people we have never seen face to face. I feel it is still underestimated in the sector.
Of course real human interaction can never be replaced. It is why I decided to go to the event. Attending industry events like this can often be intimidating. You’re scared to say the wrong thing or feeling like you have little knowledge in comparison to attendees. I am a fairly confident person however to someone young in the industry who is starting out it can all be a bit overwhelming. A good example was the event held by Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport & Physical Activity at the London Aquatics Centre.
The event invited members and non-members to network and to listen to presentations by Mark Sesnan GLL Chief Executive, Tara Dillon, interim chief operating officer, CIMSPA and Carl Bennett, CIMSPA interim chair and senior health improvement specialist (commissioner), Stoke on Trent public health team. This is a pretty impressive line up. Although I had previously communicated with Carl Bennett over Social Media again we had never met until this event. How do people of my age operating in the industry get to someone like Carl if he is not on Social Media? How can we have an idea of what he thinks and expects of the industry if he did not reach out? The gap needs to be closed.
Social Media is not the only way to encourage the next generation of professionals in the sector. I asked Carl what where the changes the industry needed to make to impact the lives of people. His answer was compelling and you just can’t replicate a response like that over Social Media. What you can do is lead the next generation towards it and allow them to make a decision on their next steps in Sport & leisure. I understand that many of my peers are searching for direction and support to get ahead. A lot of them will indeed be on Social media but are unknown and are not being engaged. I would not be surprised if a lot claimed they had never heard of Sport & Recreation Alliance or CIMSPA. I was not aware of them during my studies. This generation is extremely hungry. The will is there and Social Media could be a key tool to galvanise the next generation of sport & leisure professionals.