BUSINESS networking in Huntingdonshire is going social.

A networking group has been holding organised events on the website Twitter, reaching thousands of tweeters from across the county and the country.

The A14 Coffee Morning Business Networking Club's online business networking event is held every Wednesday between 8pm and 9pm. More than 370 messages using the hashtag #CambsHour were sent during the first event while the second, held a week later, started trending - making it one of the most popular subjects at that time.

Helen Reinson, who started St Ives-based company IT Hummingbird in May, approached the networking group with the idea after seeing businesses in East Midlands and Yorkshire promoting and supporting each other using Twitter.

Social media expert Ann Hawkins, founder of The Inspired Group, got behind the idea and the first event was held just days later.

Mrs Reinson said: "I floated the idea at the A14 Coffee Morning and days later we had held the first event which reached more than 11,500 accounts. The next week we were trending which meant it could be seen nationally.

"A lot of people have met up face-to-face as a result of connecting during the event. I don't know whether that has turned into any business yet, but it's very early days.

"Every week more people are joining the conversation, and it's not just the people you connect to, it's also the wider network of the people they know as well.

"Small businesses who take part get the support of the larger businesses, but offer support as well."

She added: "Face-to-face meetings are still important and I get business through networking events, but social networking is becoming increasingly important. When you use Twitter, Facebook and blogs, it helps with SEO (search engine optimisation) and pushes businesses to the top of web searches.

"It also helps connecting to young people who are used to using social networking."

She added: "Ann Hawkins has written a blog to help people start conversations on Twitter and how to join in because it is fast and furious when we get going."

INFORMATION: Ann Hawkins's blog on social networking can be found at www.it-hummingbird.co.uk. To join the networking event use the hashtag #CambsHour between 8pm and 9pm every Wednesday.