I’m not sure how to interpret this question. One way would be that the question is looking for tips from professional speed networkers. This would presume that there is a subsector of elite networkers that consider themselves professionals. If so, I would expect that they are self-proclaimed professionals. That leads me to wonder that if they are so good, why do they have to keep producing more connections? Wouldn’t it be better to build quality relationships with the number of connections they already have i.e. quality over quantity?
Another perspective is that the question is asking for speed networking tips from business professionals that are successful using the format of speed networking. I’ll go with the latter.
Speed networking is an organized event where the expectation is that all of the participants will have access to a greater number of personal interactions then they would on their own or at a typical, non-organized meet and greet.
This question is asking for tips i.e. what works and perhaps what doesn’t. Here are some to consider based on my experience and opinion.
1. While meeting a large number of people and collecting an equal amount of business cards can look like a measure of success, when it comes to networking and developing relationships, quality is better than quantity. Despite their being a large number of people to meet, you may be more productive with deciding on a number in advance as to how many new people you want to meet. Perhaps 5 to 8 might be a workable number. I find that too high as I tend to forget who was who.
2. In a formalized speed networking event, where you are matched with somebody you already know, there may be advantage to finding more about them and re-establishing your existing relationship.
3. In a less formalized networking event, where you meet someone you already know, there is value in touching base with them. Some so-called networking experts will say that you should never talk to someone you already know as it is a waste of time and they aren’t bringing you any new connections and subsequent sales. I totally disagree with that concept. I wouldn’t spend a lot of time with a contact or friend but I would touch base to see what is new in their business or personal world and provide them with a brief glance into mine. I would also ask them if they know of anybody at the event that I really should meet and if they would be able to introduce me.
4. Be aware of whether the event that is being billed as a speed networking event actually is one. I am aware of some business association events that while they purport to be a business event, the members themselves view it as a meat market. No I don’t mean ‘meet.’ Many of the participants are hoping to score at the event.
5. Don’t spend too much time with any individual participant. Once the formalities are out of the way don’t be afraid of being forward and saying something to the effect of “I think we may have something in common or perhaps we can be of help to each other. Are you interested in going out for coffee to talk some more about it?”
6. Be ready with an exit plan should you meet up with someone who is dominating the conversation or you are receiving bad vibes from. It is a fact of life that we will not get along with everyone that we encounter. If you have a sense that something is not right, odds are that they aren’t.
7. Be assertive when it comes to sharing information. “Show me yours and I’ll show you mine” comes to mind. If the other person is dominating the conversation either be prepared to steer it in your direction or have an exit strategy.
Rae A. Stonehouse is an author, speaker, and self-publishing consultant dedicated to helping others embrace constant improvement and overcome challenges. With over 40 years of experience as a Registered Nurse in psychiatry and mental health, Rae brings a wealth of knowledge and passion for self-development to his writing and presentations.
As a 25+ year member of Toastmasters International, Rae has systematically built his communication abilities and self-confidence to share his insights as an author and speaker. His self-help books and personal development presentations aim to have conversational one-on-one connections with readers and audiences.
Rae is known for his wry sense of humor and sage advice delivered in a relatable coaching style. After four decades as a nurse, Rae has rewired rather than retired, actively writing and pursuing public speaking. He strives to share lessons learned to help others achieve personal and professional growth.