Speed networking is a fairly new concept that developed after the trending ‘speed dating’ of the late 1990’s. The idea behind speed dating is to spend a few minutes with someone to see if you click. If you do, you share information for a future date.
What is speed networking? It’s an opportunity to connect with people in your field. Speed networking is typically a formal event. But, you could create your own speed networking opportunity in an unsuspecting group setting making as many contacts as you can. You can also take advantage of online networking too.
You will need a few things to successfully speed network:
- An elevator speech
- Business cards (or contact information)
- A smile
- Ability to small talk
The elevator speech is important because it’s a purposeful statement designed to make an impact. Think about what you want to say ahead of time and create a few clear statements that sum up what you want people to remember about you. Be ready with a few statements so you can adjust what you want to say based on who you meet.
Business cards are easy to come by. You can print or design cards with a few clicks on your computer. If you don’t have business cards, have something you can hand to people with at least your name and email. It’s always good to include your phone number, where you work, and a phrase to remember you by. I’ve seen individually wrapped cookies and lollipops with tags that have contact information on it. I like this idea because it can make more of an impact than a traditional card as it is unique and more personal, though more expensive.
If you read my blog, you know I think smiling is important. If you don’t smile for personal reasons, you should for professional reasons. There is nothing more attractive and appealing than a great smile. Plus, smiling is a mood booster.
If small talk doesn’t come easily to you, simply Google “how to small talk.” You’ll find a vast amount of information that will help you become comfortable with this necessary skill. The purpose of small talk is to chat about simple topics that aren’t personal. When I train new staff at a service desk, I teach the importance of having talking points. At the least, have a short list of safe topics to bring up. I recommend talking about the weather. In a networking situation, a good opening to further the conversation is to simply note what you are enjoying about the event or the venue.
If you reference my previous posts, the importance of networking and having a prepared elevator speech, you will get a good overview of the concepts above. As I prepare for this year’s Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services Conference in Covington, Kentucky, I decided to incorporate a few rounds of speed networking into my presentation. After all, a professional conference is the perfect networking opportunity.
Further networking tips:
- Good listening is an important factor in networking.
- Network with another person or with a group, especially if you aren’t comfortable networking alone.
- Follow-up after a speed networking opportunity in order to continue the conversation. Never send out a blanket email to those you met – personalize the email.
- Some conferences will give you attendee contact information. It’s okay to connect with these people after the event, even if you didn’t get a chance to meet in person.
- Look for new chances to network. At your next meeting, try sitting next to someone you don’t know.
For more details on speed networking, check out the resources below.
~I’m here to help
a2z, Inc. 2016. 5 Trade Show Secrets for Networking Success. Retrieved from: http://www.eventmanagerblog.com/trade-show-secrets-for-networking-success
AmeriCorp Alums. 2016. Top 5 Tips for Online Speednetworking Events. Retrieved from: https://blog.americorpsalums.org/2016/05/25/top-5-tips-for-online-speed-networking-success/
Brunelinnovationhub. 2016. 10 Tips for networking for Success. Retrieved from: https://brunelinnovationhub.com/2016/03/07/10-tips-for-networking-success/
Frost, Aja. 2016. 48 Questions That’ll Make Awkward Small Talk So Much Easier. https://www.themuse.com/advice/48-questions-thatll-make-awkward-small-talk-so-much-easier
NeuroNation. Why You Need To Smile More. Retrieved from: http://www.neuronation.com/science/benefits-of-smiling
Tung, Jennifer. 10 Big Rules of Small Talk. Retrieved from: http://www.realsimple.com/work-life/work-life-etiquette/manners/10-big-rules-small-talk
wikiHow. 2016. How to Small Talk. Retrieved from: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Small-Talk
Williams, Tina. 2016. Networking & Careers. Retrieved from: https://tinaheretohelp.com/2016/09/01/networking-careers/
Williams, Tina. 2016. The Elevator Speech. Retrieved from: https://tinaheretohelp.com/2016/04/11/the-elevator-speech/
Williams, Tina. 2016. Smile – Even When You Don’t Want To. Retrieved from: https://tinaheretohelp.com/2015/07/23/smile-even-when-you-dont-want-to-customer-service/