Have you ever participated in a speed networking event?
Speed networking is based on the idea of speed dating, where a single person meets a large number of other single people in a structured event. An example of this would be an event where you get just 10 minutes to speak to someone, before having to move to another table and speak to a new person. It’s based on the idea that if you click with anyone, you can follow up later. Speed networking is the same principle, without the expectation of romantic involvement!
Most speed networking events are designed to facilitate as many connections as possible. Rather than attending a networking event and finding yourself speaking to one person for an hour, at a speed networking event there are usually timed segments, at the end of which participants are expected to finish their conversation and speak to someone new. They can be an effective way to quickly expand your professional network, although, like speed dating, valuable relationships really only develop out of post-event follow up.
I was recently invited to a speed networking event held as part of the ALIA New Librarians Symposium in Sydney, Australia. The symposium had an aviation theme, and the speed networking event was badged as meeting “Captains of Industry”. Each “Captain” was assigned a group of 5 symposium delegates. Each delegate had five minutes to ask the “Captain” questions about their career or professional concerns – at 5 minutes a bell would ring, and the next person gets to speak to the “Captain”. Meanwhile, the four remaining delegates had the opportunity to speak to each other, and learn more about who they are and what they do.
I enjoyed the rapid-fire nature of the event, and it was great to be able to meet so many delegates in such a short period of time. While I wasn’t able to answer all the questions that I was asked – some of them were outside my sphere of experience – I felt as though I was able to encourage delegates to identify other sources for their information need – like a good librarian!
Speed networking events are cheap and easy to organise – all you need is a bunch of people that don’t know each other, a space to talk (try for a room with good acoustics – lots of people talking at once can get very noisy!), a timer and a bell. There are a few different models that can be used, such as round robin, station-based or group based (like my recent experience) – these are described on the Wikipedia page for speed networking.
Have you ever attended a speed networking event? What did you think of it?
-Alyson Dalby, ILN Director of Business Operations