By Phillip Milano
What started out as a class networking project by two Jacksonville University staff members and students is fast becoming a region-wide experiment in the benefits of “girl talk.”
Sharon Collins and Gracie Simendinger created “GirlTalkJAX” on Facebook, Twitter (@girltalkjax) and elsewhere several weeks ago for their Data-Driven Decision-making course, an Education Leadership Class taught by Jacksonville University adjunct professor Dr. Jeff Kissinger.
Already, more than 70 members on Facebook (facebook.com/groups/438797686131282) are exchanging beauty, style, fashion, events, dining and other tips related to the Jacksonville area. Posts on the project’s Linked-In page, meanwhile, dip into workplace, career and issue-oriented topics, among other things.
“It’s for any woman who wants to be in the know about professional and personal options in Jacksonville,” said Collins, who along with Simendinger is an education graduate student. “There’s a void for that locally. We’re looking at all ways to make connections, whether it’s career, education, stay-at-home mom topics, technology … Jacksonville is still a male-oriented business community, so this provides a free networking chance for women where they can tune in to whatever they want.”
That means taking advantage of the combined knowledge and experience of local women for a wide array of topics, including “fun stuff” related to shopping, beauty and more, Simendinger added.
“We’re getting lots of positive responses and comments from people who are jumping in,” she said. “Some days we might get into a discussion on Facebook about how to find a good massage therapist locally, or ladies drink specials, or sales at the St. Johns Town Center, or finding a good hair salon. The topics go on and on.”
Combining different social networking venues for different types of discussions – whether “light” or more serious – seems to be working, the duo said. And bringing a multi-generational viewpoint (Collins is Generation X, Simendinger a Millennial) is adding authenticity.
“You just get that added context, and that seems to reassure people that this is open to all women of any age group,” Collins said.
The pair will make a virtual presentation of their project to their classmates on Wednesday, June 5.