What is Speed Networking?
Speed networking is exactly what it sounds like. A speed networking event usually has a formal structure to it – typically in a series of brief one-on-one information exchanges. You have a limited amount of time to introduce yourself to someone and have a conversation with them before moving onto the next attendee.
It can be a great way to:
- practice your elevator pitch;
- meets lots of new people;
- practice your networking skills.
Usually, after the speed element of the networking there is a more relaxed opportunity to pick up those conversations again with the people who you have already met (and it is usually easier thet second time round). You can exchange information in the brief one-to-one or follow-up afterwards.
Some variations of speed networking include meeting withm small groups of people throughout the event, rather than one on one exchanges.
Speed networking is a particularly succesful way to meet delegates at a conference or event. It works well as an ice-breaker and gives you initial facetime with a range of people with plenty of opportunities for follow-up networking. Another great example of speed networking is for student. It can be a great way for students to practice their networking and meet lots of people working in their chosen career and ask for advice.
Personally I have found that speed-networking has opened up opportunities with people I would not have otherwise met and I also gained a couple of mentees from speed networking with students.
How to prepare for a Speed Networking Event
- Check the format of the event and dress code in advance so that you know what to expect
- We have mentioned this already – but practice your elevator pitch in advance. If you haven’t mastered your Elevator Pitch, a speed networking event is the perfect place to finesse it.
- Take Business Cards / Connection Cards.
- Take pen & paper.
- Identify your goals for the event – and prepare your questions.
Tips for attending a Speed Networking Event
- Get into a rhythm with each person you meet – as you meet each person, shake hands and exchange names and business cards.
- Be aware of time, give the other person ample opportunity to speak.
- If space, take notes on the back of your partner’s business card. This may include notes on how they look or what they are wearing to help you remember them. If there is no space on their business card, use a connection card or your notebook.
- Indicate in your conversation with them whether you would like to follow-up, finish the conversation later. Suggest a next step, if appropriate.
- Remember to be a good participant. At the signal, end your conversation immediately and move, or allow the other person to move, to next person. You can always continue conversations later.
How to Follow-up after a Speed Networking Event
Following up after a speed networking event is no different to that of a normal networking event. After the speed networking event, review the business cards of the people you met and send an email (or phone) within 24-48 hours to each person you want to follow-up with. Just remember to do it!