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JUNE: Making connections - is social media dead?

I’ve been thinking a lot about networks recently, specifically to do with working and careers, for a number of reasons. Firstly because my part time job is working for a corporate global law firm, where I work on the alumni team. Our job is to create meaningful networks across the globe.

In particular what I have been thinking about is how networks link into real time and real spaces. What does this have to do with London, and food and wine - my main passions in life and this blog? Bear with me, I will get there.

Why I have been thinking about networks in this way is due to a work project I am on to build a new website and database - so a lot of time thinking about how to build a virtual space that will create strong, positive connections across time and space, across various different people, ages, expertise, whose only tangible connection is that they spend time together in an office, some where in the world. My conclusion was we needed to create something that wasn't social media - which seems a radical idea, considering social media’s seems to be based on the the concept of making meaningful networks with like-minded people. 

But what makes a connection work? And how does social media play a part in that? The key is ‘tangible connections’ - real time and real spaces create shorthand in communicating and also about shared experiences.

Networks can be viewed in a variety of ways. A predominant view is akin to connecting the dots - a spider diagram across space, from person to person. This approach is very individualistic. It is dynamic as people can share knowledge across to each other; but ultimately it is driven by one person reaching out to another. To me this is reflective of social media, as much as social media wants to be about connections and sharing, it is still one person on their smartphone tapping into their the status bar. We all love social media, but, it is possible we’re reached our fill of it? Or rather, there isn’t space for new versions of social media (I mean, does anyone actually use Ello?). Therefore where we are moving is towards deeper connections and a need to feel a sense of community, even within working environments. People want to be part of ‘something’. With changing work structures people are thinking more about working with people they like, than with people they need to. 

So how do we create sense of community, particularly within the bustling city and busy lifestyles that London offers, nah - demands? For communities to work there needs to be a ‘hub’, we need to develop the sense of that village hall, where on weekends the community gathers for a fête. So instead of social media, dot-to-dot (social media) connections I want to create hubs.

To create hubs we need to provide spaces for people to gather, this can of course be online - forums etc, and can be the village hall. Social media plays into this hub creation because it informs people of what’s going on, it connects individuals that share the same interests, it pulls people to places but it isn’t the ‘hub’. I would consider spaces like online magazines and newspapers as hubs. They are spaces that gather people to read, gain knowledge, which can then be spread. I am not a fan of comment sections to stories (for another day/rant), but these spaces offer interaction, which has the potential to build up a sense of community - you can even find love (a shag) on the Guardian with ‘Guardian Soulmates’. To create communities and hubs and successful connections across the virtual world is to offer spaces where people can learn, share that learning, interact, or even use those stories/articles etc as ways to interact with others. From the ‘hub’ you can reach out. 

But interesting material and knowledge is not enough to create meaningful communities and connections, for that you need to create real time meeting; this brings me to the other reason I’ve been reflecting on networks and making connections - Chefs of Tomorrow. Looking back at Series One has been wonderful and I have meet some amazing people, and made some new friends, and a lot of those relationships are conducted online. The re-connection and the staying in touch is happening through social media and emails, but those relationships couldn't have got there without the IRL (In Real Life) moments - the events cement and grow connections, and let you continue connecting, meaningfully across virtual channels. Chefs of Tomorrow has really created a space/ spaces in which people have built up relationships, CoT is a hub of knowledge, friendships and work connections.  CoT is incredibly special and the action of working and eating together creates community and special links.

The best connections and friends I have made through twitter have moved to spaces outside of social media; there is always (sometimes brief) touch points - coffees, cocktails, snacks… *

So with IRL meetings in mind I’m going to list a few of my favourite private dinning rooms in London, because sometimes, a small little dinner party in your own private room (so you’re not left with the washing up at the end of the night) is great way to get to know people better. Get organised, meet up, drink and eat and be merry, create memories - from there work (and friendships) will grow.
Most of these places I've used, and if not, I've definitely eaten many times at the restaurant! This is a list with a range of different type of places. 

You can’t beat that view. Plus the food’s alright** ;)
The events team are super lovely, I worked with Danielle on a big event at SUSHISAMBA (they share an events team), she fantastic.
Seats 18, min spend is pretty good for a corporate dinner, at £1,500
**aka amazing

Beautifully designed room in the basement, next to their gorgeous cocktail bar.
Seats 20 (I think), min spend depending on time and day - but is very reasonable! So not just a corporate party option!

Disappearing Dinning in general would be a great way to organise private dinner parties! Back in 5 Min is lovely. The service and events team are wonderful, the food is great.
For private hire it needs to be 10 people min, seats up to about 25. Good min spend.

I’ve used Gaucho a number of times for private dinners, my favourite is Smithfields as it feels the least corporate, but the Piccadilly Wine Shop is great. 
Wine Shop least 18, various menus available, plus wine tastings. 

Beautiful food. Great wines. And the downstairs private dinning is lovely. 

The Green Room is gorgeous, decadent and such a classic London restaurant. 

Even if the rain was lashing down, I think this glass encased roof top private dinning space would be amazing.
This isn’t cheap with a min spend and a hire spend.
Seats 22. 

Cosy, cute, great service, good food.
Also with a hire charge and min spend.

Part of the Drake & Morgan group, in the basement of The Anthologist, a little eating and drinking den!
Good value for money, cute space. 

*Probably the only time this hasn't happened is with the wonderful artist Lauren Adkins, as she lives in the states. But, we connect on multiple platforms (twitter, IG, Facebook & email), she emailed me her MA dissertation, and I email her my work and so we have developed meaningful connections through multiplicity of connections. One day we’ll meet and create amazing work!!


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