12 Nov Looking to be Competitive? Try Speed Networking
Madison, Wis. – Companies looking to thrive in an increasingly competitive atmosphere are using new techniques. Shamane Mills, of Wisconsin Public Radio reports on one rather unusual method: speed-networking, a concept based on speed-dating introduced in by The Wisconsin Technology Network… Listen to this story now using RealPlayer
“It’s not the big that eat the small; it’s the fast that eat the slow.” That phrase was used to kick off a business seminar on speed networking, a fast-paced way for executives and entrepreneurs to share ideas and seek money for venture capital. Fifty people from Wisconsin and Illinois gathered in Madison recently where they had two minutes to make their point one-on-one.
In speed networking, a roomful of high-tech people interact in a low-tech way. Basically, they talk, but not over a cell phone or through e-mail, but face-to-face. They’re trying to find out what each can provide the other, whether it be computer services, money for a business or a patent for an idea.
The organizer of the event is Mike Klein of Wisconsin Technology Network. He makes participants move around the room in an organized way to avoid a common pitfall. He says when people go to conferences, they tend to gravitate towards people they know, and they don’t meet that many new individuals. Also, he says the system facilitates networking for someone who may be shy.
The speed networking is no go-slow affair. With just two minutes to talk, people have to think fast, talk fast and move fast. The process is based on speed-dating. Along with a pep talk, participants got guidelines on dos and don’ts for speed networking. For example, inquiring about a job is not allowed, which was illustrated during a mock session before the event began.
Once the ground rules are in place, the very serious game of networking can begin. Participants are teamed up according to their home state, but then they become “free agents.” The sports theme extended to the snacks available to networkers. There were energy bars, just like those used by athletic competitors, and plenty of water to prevent dry mouth caused by constant chatter.
The marathon session lasted two hours. Some hope networking programs like this can help Milwaukee, Chicago and Madison become an eco-region which rivals Silicon Valley out west or Research Triangle in the east. Participants say it’s time well-spent if there are long-lasting effects toward a truly regional economy.
Editor’s Note: This story and the accompanying audio were featured on Wisconsin Public Radio and have been syndicated with their permission.