If you haven’t been to a speed networking event, I urge you to give one a go. You get to formally meet and follow up with 20 to 30 people and have fun at the same time. Here’s how speed networking works.
Participants are split into two groups. The groups are then put into two circles with one inside the other so each person has someone opposite them. This person is your first partner. You spend 5 minutes with each partner (2 minutes each plus 1 minute for questions) before the inside circle moves to the next person.
Once the speed part is over, there’s an hour at the end for people to reconnect with those they wanted to talk to in more detail.
It’s organised chaos – loud, energising and exhausting.
Here’s how to make your speed networking night a success:
Take 50 or more business cards
Sounds basic but you wouldn’t believe the number of people who either ran out before the night is over, or didn’t think to bring them along.
Refine your message
Two minutes isn’t long, so forget about listing all the services you provide. Pick a couple of key things and find an engaging way to describe them. Believe me, by the time you are opposite your 20th partner, you will be desperate for them to describe what they do in an interesting way. And they are praying for you to do the same!
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Always be more interested in them
I had one partner who spent the entire 5 minutes talking about his business without even bothering to ask me a single question. I threw his card away. People remember those who show a genuine interest in what they do, which is true of all kinds of networking.
The challenge with speed networking is being remembered once it’s over. It’s easier to remember the last three people we met than the first three. Use humour to stand out and your partners will make a point of remembering you.
Throw in a success story
Find a way of sharing one of your successes. It will help clarify what you do more effectively and allows people to make connections between what you do and people they know who may need your services.
Follow up the next day
This golden rule of networking applies equally to speed networking. Visit the websites of those you connected with, then send an email saying pleasure to meet you and suggesting a follow up meeting, if you think that would be worthwhile.
It’s easy to pick people who come unprepared to speed networking events. They don’t clearly describe what they do, their delivery is lacklustre and uninspiring and they run out of cards.
Don’t let this be you!
Have you had any successes at speed networking? Or does it sound like something you’d prefer to avoid? Let us know.