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Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the Business Network Chicago After Hours Event, which included a terrific, informative presentation on social media by my new friend Dean DeLisle (www.forwardprogress.net or @deandelisle) and my first experience with speed networking. I’ve been to regular networking events before, but speed networking was completely new to me.
The schedule of the event was pretty standard: check-in/network, first session/network, break/network, second session/network, go home and follow up with your new friends. There were people from almost every industry there, employed and in-transition. As such, the evening totally met my expectations until we got to the speed networking session. Now, it’s not that my expectations changed for the speed networking session. I just didn’t have any, because I had no idea how speed networking worked! I’d never done speed dating either, so the only thing I knew of the concept was the speed dating scene from The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and I was praying that speed networking wouldn’t be that awful. Fortunately, my prayers were answered, and the speed networking session proved to be outstanding.
There were 8 tables of 6, and we were randomly assigned a four-table sequence for the duration of the session. I went from table E to B to E to H and was lucky enough to meet new people every time. The process at each table was as such: trade business cards (see my post about networking), then give your elevator speech, explain why you attended the event, then work the connections you’ve made at the table until the moderator says its time to switch. 15 minutes was usually long enough for the aforementioned process to occur, and just short enough to consider it speed networking. Honestly, I was a little rusty at the first table, but as the session went on, I found my groove. By the end of the hour, I was a speed networking pro. And I had 20 new connections to prove it. (Math guy says: 6 people/table (minus the Author, so 5 people) x 4 tables = 20 people.) Sure, not everyone was the perfect connection, but you never know. I came home and immediately connected with those people I knew were the best connections for me. FYI, I’ve been corresponding with those new people all day. My LinkedIn stats prove it.
For those of you who are curious about speed networking, try it. Its a very quick way to expand your network. You never know who you’ll meet! Maybe you’ll meet me.
So maybe it wasn’t Maverick and Goose launching F-14s from an aircraft carrier to take down the enemy, but it was 3 hours very well spent. I have another speed networking event in a couple weeks with the Loyola Alumni Association, and I’m VERY excited for that one. I think Ill continue to look for more speed networking events, because I feel the need the need for speed (networking)!
Jonathan Krass is our latest entry for the Job Search Blogger Contest. Vote for his blog post by leaving a comment below. Contest ends on May 11th.