When’s the last time you met, had a brief conversation and exchanged cards with 20 professionals in 60 minutes? As a scientist, do you find it difficult to talk your way through a crowd? When it comes to networking, do you have the need for speed? Then maybe speed networking is for you! At last week’s SDBN event our members had the opportunity to meet one potential customer, referral, collaborator, qualified candidate, possible employer after another. Here’s how it worked.
Prior to starting, we gave a brief presentation describing what the next hour was gong to look like. Tables were arranged into a large ‘U’ shape with chairs on each side (members facing each other, see photos on Flickr for more details). A diagram explained that the people sitting on the outside of the ‘U’ were going to stay in their seats while those on the inside would move one seat to their right upon hearing a cue. The four basic guidelines were…
- You have 3 minutes total – Why three? Two is too little and five… well that would be too much. We knew that participants would be fried after 60 minutes and we wanted everyone to connect with at least 20 other professionals so… we landed on 3 minutes.
- Introduce yourself – Allow each person to introduce themselves before starting the conversation.
- Refine your message – We asked the participants to think about what they wanted to walk away with that night. Was it a contact name at a company they are seeking employment with? A collaborative partner for a project they are working on? Maybe to increase their LinkedIn professional network? Whatever their goal, it needed to be the main message in these brief conversations.
- Have fun – What’s the point if no one is having a good time!
With participants facing each other, guidelines in place and stopwatch in hand, we were ready to begin. “Your three minutes starts.. NOW!” The room was singing with energy and all 82 participants were engaged. As promised, at the end of the 3-minute cycle we prompted the room to “rotate”… 3 minutes later “rotate” and then again to “roooootate”… you get the picture.
One very short hour later we called the last “rotate” and asked participants to conclude their final conversation. So what ensued after the 60-minute speed networking session… more networking! Could it be that this type of exercise helps you feel more comfortable talking to strangers, communicating a business need and building your social capital? YES!
The post session comments have lead us to believe that this was a very successful event and one that our members would like to participate in again. What are your thoughts? Did you meet anyone that will help you further a professional goal? Did the overall event meet your expectations? How can we improve next time?
Special thanks to Fiona Godsman of Nexxus Scotland for the idea.
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