Speed networking is often jokingly referred to as the business version of speed dating. It allows participants to connect with many people in a short amount of time. The short, time structured meetings usually happen one-on-one for brief info exchanges. After the event, individuals have the choice to decide who they will follow up with. Speed networking can be a great way to meet potential business contacts, clients, leads, or jobs.
A round-robin format is often used in speed networking, with a moderator who controls the start and stop time of each “round,” and coordinates the event to ensure it goes smoothly. Within each round, participants meet each other – one-on-one – and then move on until everyone has met.
Virtual speed networking does sacrifice the ability to meet people in real life, but does offer a higher level of accessibility unavailable to in-person speed networking events. As there are no borders, people from all over the world can participate, bringing the potential of building a more international and diverse network. Being virtual speed means that event organizers do not need to rent out a large event space and provide catering. It reduces costs for both the host of the event, and for the participants.
Most virtual event platforms will have virtual networking session capabilities. Look for those that offer the ability to make targeted connections. These go beyond the traditional 1:1 networking, combining matchmaking technology and predictive analytics to encourage focussed and meaningful relationships.
Along with choosing the best platform for your speed networking event, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- the timing and number of participants per group – consider how much time to allocate for each block of speed networking and the optimal number of people to assign to each breakout room;
- assign clear roles – having a moderator will greatly increase the success of the event. A technical person is useful for running the platform and working on the technical side with the participants;
- make a plan – determine when people will break into rooms and assign a topic for discussion for each speed-networking block. A written outline will help both the moderator and the organizer keep everything on track; and,
- consider the frequency of your events – speed networking events can be held on a regular basis, not just in conjunction with an annual event. These frequent events can be broken down by various themes, such as specific areas of interest, stage in the career path, or physical location.