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Speed Networking…. Like Speed Dating For Business Contacts

Updated on January 26, 2011

Speed Networking.....More Fun Than Speed Dating!

Last night I went to my first “speed networking” event. Similar to speed dating, with speed networking participants have the opportunity to network with many other business professionals in a very short period of time. In just over two hours, I was able to network with 30 other people.

The event took place at a local hotel and the first hour had the traditional networking feel: a cash bar, appetizers and a bunch of folks standing around in business attire chatting and smiling.

Attendees were expected to walk up to each other and just get the conversation flowing. Through the more traditional method, I met about ten people at this event. You could call this our warm up activity…

Although I’ve been in leadership roles for years and portray an “extroverted” personality at work, I am truly more of an introvert in my personal life. It takes energy and thought for me to be “on” and push myself to talk to strangers in a large group setting. This is one of the things that drew me to the speed networking activity. I knew that once it started, networking would “just happen” without feeling as forced. (The two glasses of wine I drank were also helpful!)

Watch a Speed Networking Event

What Happens During Speed Networking:

After the hour of open networking, about 120 people crowded into a small ballroom that had about 4, double rows of chairs.

Every person ended up sitting across from and right next to another attendee. Space was tight. Deodorant and breath mints- were must have items. (Although a few folks forget them.)

The host for the evening gave us instructions to, on queue, have a three minute conversation with the person across from us- giving each individual just over a minute to speak. After three minutes, loud music was played and everyone in designated rows shifted one seat to their right- while the facing rows remained in place.

Speed Networking: Courtesy of
Speed Networking: Courtesy of

As soon as the event started, the one thing we all noticed more than anything else was the noise. We had 120 people in a small room, all talking at once. Therefore, we had to yell as we talked. It reminded me of the times I’ve gone to see a loud rock concert in a small club and you have to scream to your friends to have a conversation.

There were some three minute networking conversations that went very well. We each gave our elevator speech, exchanged business cards and shook hands. There were a few conversations that never quite got off the ground. We couldn’t hear each other, the conversation didn’t flow etc.

Speed Networking Name Tag Image courtesy of www.centerfornonprofitexcellence.
Speed Networking Name Tag Image courtesy of www.centerfornonprofitexcellence.

The Name Tag Dilemma- Another Sign of The Economic Conditions

Everyone who attended the event wore name tags. Since this particular event was a college alumni activity, the information from the name tags was pulled from our college database and personal profiles. The standard event name tag had first and last name, year of college graduation, job title and company name.

This is how the average networking conversation flowed: "Hi Nancy… I see you’re with Fidelity Investments. What do you do there?”. Nancy’s response: “Well, I used to work for Fidelity, but got laid off X months ago”.

As I approached person after person, I received this type of response close to 80% of the time. In this particular crowd, the minority who were still working were all Financial Advisors… ready to advise me! Or, had been laid off over a year ago and had now started their own businesses- from Green Computers to selling Scooters.

A depressing sign of the times.

Learn More About Speed Networking On ABC News

Was Speed Networking Helpful?

Speed Networking was a good use of my time. I met about 30 people in the course of two hours and I also received a list of all 120 attendees and their contact information. Although I can’t act immediately on any of these contacts, I may be able to leverage them in the future.

I was also able to practice my elevator speech. When someone asks you what you do, or to tell them a little something about yourself, this is when your 1-2 minute elevator speech comes in handy. A good elevator speech will help you build connections and will be important during job interview situations.

Back when I was single, I tried Speed Dating. I have to say, Speed Networking was a better use of my time!


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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I would like to know where it took place? Could someone tell me where does this kind of event take place? Looks very interesting!


    • Betty Johansen profile image

      Betty Johansen 

      7 years ago

      Speed networking sounds like a terrific idea. I had never heard of it before (so what's new?) Now that I know what it is, maybe I'll find an opportunity to participate. Thanks for the info.

    • profile image

      Christian Raeuber 

      8 years ago

      Interesting Article here and great video about speed networking. I can only recommend speed networking for companies.

      I am myself in the speed networking industry and do it for sme freight forwarders from all over the world seeking new partnerships.

      The unique approach that we take is to fix our 'speed networkers' to an industry that are already co-dependent. Freight forwarders from all over the world need to meet other freight forwarders to handle each others business and promote each other.

      After visiting a few general networking events, you wonder if there are even better ways to network and meet more qualified contacts. For this you will need to research more specific niche networking events of your desire.

      The more qualified your event, typically the longer the conversations - our sessions are 30 minutes long since the interest level is kept high.

      Another way to help networkers to 'qualify' their contacts is to allow them to research on the companies/people they are to meet and allow them to pick whom they want to meet by providing them a scheduling system. You can search up schedulers, or take a look at, which allows your 'networkers' to view their itinerary against the itinerary of the person you wish to visit on a split screen to fix a specific time-slot at a specific table assignment.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Hi Reynolds,

      I am very interested on your article. Great work by the way and thank you for posting it.

      Wow, speed networking.. I like that, but surely there would be some follow up appointments with the people you just met right? I like the fact that you met over 30 people in just a short time and got their contact information. Well, I say, that's the way to go during networking events.

      Now, after meeting people and getting their contact information. It's now time to contact them and get to know them better to build your business network.

      Thanks for posting. Hope you have a lot more hubs like this. I most definitely would like to read them.:D

    • BirteEdwards profile image


      9 years ago

      This is the first hub of yours that I am reading. High quality. In style, in content, in control of subject. I will read more for sure. The videos add extreme content.

      I love the idea of speed networking. Did speed dating once - ouch. But for business - great idea. I have been with business circles and still am, but this idea is phenomenal. Speed networking seems to have the potential for must faster connections. Of course if you feel connected to someone in a field where you can contribute and you feel can contribute to you, it's a good idea to set up additional meeting.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      great article well written.

    • profile image

      Frank Kenn 

      9 years ago

      Hi Reynolds,

      After reading your post on Multitasking, I am hooked on your stuff! Great post, good view points, and in today's workplace conditions I think everyone needs to take heed of any and all opportunities to stay connected and keep doors open in the event of losing their job. I chuckled at your speed dating vs speed networking comment. I would have to think at some level (creepy as it may be) there are folks out there that think those two events are interchangable!



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