Speed networking is a business practice based on the theory that extending the number of a business professional’s acquaintances creates more fruitful personal connections. These connections are expected to lead to greater business and career opportunities. There are many different forms of business networking. What makes speed networking different from these other techniques is the rapidity of the relationship discourses.
A timing device is employed during speed networking events to commence and end the interchange between two people. The participants are generally given speed networking instructions. The parameters typically include allowing the participant a minute or two apiece to introduce themselves. Since the time is strictly limited, participants are generally expected to use that time to deliver an “elevator speech.” In each pairing, participants are also expected to exchange business cards.
The elevator speech is a brief introduction that takes around the amount of time a person would normally have while taking an elevator from one floor to another. The content of the speech might include the person’s name, his or her title or profession, but it is mainly a super-concise summary of what the person does in the course of their profession. For example, an elevator speech might consist of saying, “Hello, my name is Joe Smith, and I’m the director of personnel for Acme Corporation. We’ve invented a way to power personal computers directly with solar energy.” Each person will usually also express whatever desirable connections with other professionals the person hopes to make in order to conduct business more profitably, or increase the effectiveness of his or her work.
A speed networking event requires an area of sufficient size that participants may move around freely, and exchange places multiple times in musical-chairs fashion. People may stand, or they may be seated. In either case, they are expected to trade partners when the orchestrator of the meeting instructs them to do so. During a speed networking event, a person may acquire more than a dozen business cards and deliver an equivalent number of elevator speeches.
Speed networking differs from other forms of networking events in that quantity takes precedence over quality in terms of relationship discourses. Other business networking theories emphasize interchanges that create deeper and broader connections between individuals. This occurs in a venue that involves longer conversational opportunities with fewer people. Even though there may be a crowd in the room, a participant may spend the majority of the meeting time talking to just one or two people.