Tips for Participating in Speed Networking Events
Speed networking is like speed dating for professionals. It evolved from the speed dating model of meeting a lot of people in a short amount of time. Speed networking is a structured process for facilitating introductions and conversation between people who don't know each other.
The model is often employed at events for college alumni groups, chamber of commerce groups, professional organizations, and college or corporate orientations to develop relationships among participants.
How Speed Networking Works
A variety of methods can be used to structure interaction with a common thread being the rotation of participants so that each person gets the opportunity to interact with every other person attending the event.
Each participant is allotted a period of time to introduce herself which will vary from 30 seconds to 5 minutes depending on the size of the group.
When you RSVP for a speed networking event, you'll be advised of how it will work, how to prepare, and what the dress code is for the program.
Have an Elevator Speech Ready
Prepare a short elevator speech which summarizes key elements of your work and educational history as well as what you're thinking about regarding your future career path. Practice articulating this information smoothly and succinctly within the time parameters of the event.
Since speed networking is a two-way process, it is essential to listen carefully to each of your partners to make sure you understand their situation and so you can offer advice and help, whenever possible.
Bring Business Cards
Business cards are often exchanged during speed networking events, and participants who hit it off can seek further opportunities for a one-on-one exchange. This might take place at a reception after the speed networking component of an event or on another day over a cup of coffee.
Make sure your business card includes, in addition to your contact information, a reference to your LinkedIn profile or another website containing a detailed summary of your professional background.
Sample Speed Networking Questions to Ask
Showing a genuine interest in your partners during speed networking programs will help you to develop a solid rapport with other participants. Listening carefully to their introductions and sending nonverbal cues that show you understand what they are saying will be an important step in this process.
Another key will be asking questions, like the following, which draw out your partners and show that you are tuned into them and engaged. Here are some sample questions to ask during a speed networking event.
- Based on what I've told you about my interests and skills, can you think of any roles which I might be suited for in your industry?
- What skills are most critical to success in the work you are currently doing?
- What is the most challenging aspect of your current job?
- You mentioned that your first job after college was as a financial analyst; how did you land that position?
- I'm intrigued by the work you did as an editorial assistant. What did it take to be successful at that initial job?
- You mentioned that you are ready to change careers. Which of your current skills would you like to draw upon most in the next phase of your career?
- What do you love most about your job?
- Is there anything you dislike about your job?
- What advice would you give to someone who is interested in your field?
- What areas of your industry will offer the greatest opportunity in the coming years?
- Would it be possible for us to meet for a more extensive informational interview at a later date since I am so curious about your work?
- What would you suggest that I do now to facilitate a transition into your industry?
- After hearing about my background, how can I help you move forward with your career?