Speed networking is a form of events in which the participants can network in a very short time. They meet as part of a network event, exchange their contact data and possibly benefit from these contacts. The term speed networking is derived from speed dating. The difference lies in the purpose of the meeting. Speed networking focuses on the exchange of business contacts and the presentation of one’s portfolio. If the company profiles fit, the participants can enter into a business relationship. Alternative terms are business speed dating, high speed networking or business speed networking.
While speed dating was invented in the nineties, the first networking events were held around the year 2000 in the United States and the UK. Speed networking quickly gained popularity and was used in a variety of industries. Conferences, trade shows, and leading trade fairs were supplemented by speed networking rounds before it developed into an independent event format. In some industries and areas of activity, speed networking is one of the most popular network formats. An incomplete selection of industries where the format is in use:
The idea of speed networking is based on the assumption that personal contact is particularly important for small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as self-employed persons and agencies to establish business relationships. Networks of participants who are personally acquainted with one another and can thus enter into business relations are relevant. In contrast to meet and greet events, the majority of communications are based on a one-to-one pattern and not according to one-to-many communication. This means that conversations are conducted at the same level and each participant can participate directly, which is not necessarily the case at meet and greet events.
What is special about speed networking is how these events are structured. Usually the participants have only a few minutes to make contact. A moderator directs the participants and signals that the time is up and that they should go to the next event participant. The fast-paced format makes an effective self-presentation necessary. The participants have to describe their activity profile and their unique features in a few sentences after they have presented themselves. The conversations are focused accordingly on specific questions and facts. For example:
When the business segments and other facts fit, there will be time after the actual network event to expand the business relationship.
The structure of speed networking can be defined differently, both with regard to the format as well as with regard to the time slots of the meeting or the specific questions:
In addition to the use of speed networking at conferences, trade fairs, meet-ups or camps, there are also some providers that specialize in different formats of networking or offer it in the context of digital products. These include:
Social networks such as Xing, Facebook, and Google Plus are also organizing speed networking events.
In digital industries, speed networking is indispensable for B2B communications such as affiliate marketing, online marketing or round tables from the area of search engine optimization. Speed networking is used to structure such events and to facilitate the first contacts of the participants. In particular, automatic generation of pairings is interesting. A preselection is used to bring together providers with stakeholders from a demand group.
However, the short periods and the structure of the networking events should not hide the fact that long-term customer relationships represent the goal. A lot more effort is required for cooperation, business deals, and sustainable customer loyalty. Speed networking is intended to simplify the first contact and quantitatively promote it through its special framework. High-quality customer contacts come after that and require more engagement.