With social media and digital technology changing the way that we communicate and offering more and more possibilities for networking, Jon Jordan, Chairman of the BAOT Scottish Northern and Eastern Regional Committee and founder of OT Curry, talks about his own experience of using social media to bring OTs together.
Social networking is hailed by many and berated by few. You can access innumerable social sites from many platforms. This enables users to be informed of world events, follow celebrities and to network with like-minded people and friends.
For this blog I am going to focus on one of the premier social sites: Twitter.
Twitter has gained popularity over the years in bringing people together and allowing individuals to have their say on myriad points, both personal and political.
I started to use Twitter to promote my business when I became an independent practitioner, but soon realised the other social benefits of it. At this point I was inspired to start up a second account under the name of @OTCurry after a dialogue with @SocialCareCurry.
Why call it @OTCurry?
@SocialCareCurry is a Twitter account where people who work in the social services arena can gather together and socialise over a curry. What a great idea, what a great way to get people working in the same field and living in the same area to come together and meet up in a social capacity over a meal. So I wanted to do the same for our profession of occupational therapy.
The @OTCurry page on Twitter is a portal to give every occupational therapist in the country the chance to socialise with the colleagues they know and the colleagues they are unaware of in their area. This event can be a curry or any meal, at any place, of any choosing, because, although curry is popular, not everyone is a fan.
Why the name @OTCurry? I tried @OTPasta and @OTNoodle, but they just did not fit. @OTSoup sounded reasonable, but who goes out just for a bowl of soup anymore? So, as there is a growing @Curry network, I decided to go with the name that was trending.
From my experience, the curry is a social affair with a variety of dishes that are eaten with the hands or Roti and shared with friends. What better metaphor than a curry for creating a social network of like-minded individuals in the occupational therapy community?
How does @OTCurry work?
@OTCurry in its simplest sense is a forum/portal which other Tweeters can use to link to a professional group of individuals across the UK and worldwide. Discussions can be started and followed using the hashtag function of Twitter. For example, a member of @OTCurry may want to launch a curry night in Telford, and so would start a discussion using #TelfordOTCurry to get other occupational therapists from the area interested and share ideas and information.
The role of @OTCurry is to provide a platform for people to come together. The rest is up to the individuals who decide to follow @OTCurry to organise their own events across the country or in different countries.
@OTCurry will also provide support and advice from their own experience of already having set up the inaugural @OTCurry night in the Highlands of Scotland, whilst also providing the housekeeping, updating and management of the @OTCurry page.
I called this blog post “The many functions of Social Networking” for a reason. The @Curry network is the opportunity to have a large linked network of health professionals from around the world meeting to share ideas and socialise over a meal, with the focus on the individual to have the power to make these events happen locally and then advertise and discuss them online during and after the fact.
This is the frontier of modern communication and networking, which is ironic considering the focus is to draw people together to meet face-to-face while the majority of modern technologies are reducing the need for constant face-to-face interaction.
I will finish with a quote from a patient (whose name is a proxy for the protection of this individual’s identity):
“My family stopped calling and started texting, then it was email, and now I have to learn to tweet otherwise I would never hear from them!” John Smith 2013.