So back home with contacts to make, work to find and also new friends to make - preferably who 'get' what I do, especially with Social Media, and unlike the guys in the Job Center, don't think it's something to do with computers.
Refresh Teesside is a group that I began following when I was in Atlanta, and is a young, hip, group of creative gunslingers dedicated to improving the lot of their business on Teesside, helping each other out and generally having a good time in the process. So completely unsuitable for me.
With that in mind, what else is there to do on a rainy Thursday in Middlesbrough when the Speedway isn't on? They meet at Sassari's Italian Restaurant on dear old Linthorpe Road and at first I wasn't sure I had found the right place - Linthorpe Road having undergone a facelift since my last visit some four years previously. I did spot a large crowd of young people wearing expensive glasses, smoking outside so correctly realised this was the place.
I'd spoken to James and Chris, the brains behind the operation, who were charming, friendly and intrigued to hear from me, even more so when I volunteered to give a five-minute quick-fire talk on my social media time in the ATL at the meeting. It served a useful purpose for me too - as well as keeping my presenting and networking skills sharp, it is more efficient to stand in front of a room of 100 plus fellow professionals and let them know that you know what you're talking about, rather than walk round the room, meeting everyone individually!
It went really well, despite totally overrunning and the laptop not playing my first Vine video (see above) - I made a lot of new friends, got a lot of Twitter love and more importantly, will be allowed to come again.
Despite being a solo-operator, actually meeting people, talking to them, swapping war stories and passing on any hard-won experience you may have is an undervalued and essential part of being a Social Media professional. The clue is in the job title. We had a Social Media Club at Kennesaw State, our own little haven from the outside world where we could meet and bleat about the demands and misunderstandings and assumptions of our trade and that's what Refresh Teesside feels like - a welcoming, new media clubhouse.
I usually veer away from organisations and societies that will have me as a member but like Teesside and my career/life trajectory - I've changed. And it's welcome.