theo paphitis, dragons, den, twitterLast week the IAA gala dinner saw Ryman stationery and La Senza boss – and ‘Dragon’ – Theo Paphitis rhapsodising about the world of independent retail.

His presence as the host of the annual event was widely praised by those present. Simon Digby, customer business development manager for convenience & impulse for Heinz, for example, said: “Theo Paphitis was an inspired choice for guest speaker – a true entrepreneurial retailer who had a resonance with everyone in the room. He brought an energy to the room – one that will inspire retailers to achieve even higher goals.”

It’s easy to get carried away by a great speaker, and it can be difficult to focus on one thing that really strikes you from a great speech. But listening to Theo, and being involved with this website in particular, made one particular passage leap out to me.

Speaking about the importance of the web, and of Twitter (which he is on: twitter.com/TheoPaphitis), Theo was effusive about retailers of all levels getting involved and alerting their customers to their offerings.

“You’d be surprised,” he said, “at how many people within half a mile of your store want to know about what you’re doing and want to hear from you.

“Get involved. I have.”

He’s right. There are people who live near your store who want to know what you’re offering. Retailers including Christine Hope, Debbie Corris and Abdul Qadar – among many others – have set up Twitter accounts, and they are able to communicate what they’re up to and their views on issues that affect them on both local and national levels. I’m sure they find it valuable. Wahid Hussain of Glasgow Newsbuster has recently set up a Facebook page to promote his offers to his local community.

Social networking, and using the web to promote what you do, is something that is only going to get more popular. It doesn’t take long, and the value can be immense.

Get involved. Theo is. The people behind this website have. Why don’t you?