Speed Networking at St. Louis Coworking


preparing to network

The space seems unassuming but moments after this photo intense networking took place.

St. Louis Coworking played host to a speed networking event. Instructions, refreshments, and ultimately networking partners were provided.

Divided into Green and Orange teams, we split up opposite one another. Standing across a table, each partner was given one minute to give their pitch. At the one minute point, the other partner began.

Orange team rotated around to new partners, giving all greens and oranges a chance to pair up. This completed round one.

Round two had each team splitting in half and pairing off.  Now each team had a go at some new folks with less shuffling. Still the one minute per partner rule was in force.

A final round of pairings was done with the one minute rule, maximizing chances to network one on one.

Finishing up the evening was open networking and consuming refreshments.  Brought out as a dessert was gelato cups from Gelateria Tavolini, a nearby gelato shop, and a sponsor of the event.

Describing the mechanics doesn’t quite capture what speed networking is. It’s sixty seconds to give the person across from you a reason to hire you. That might mean as a service, employee, or temporary contractor. I was pitched by a professor on his college, a man representing a prize company, and marketer focusing on using social media and networking.  That sampling represented a few that came at least somewhat prepared.

Preparing is important if you only have a minute.  It’s not about getting a list of facts and figures, your personal history, or your schools together; it’s about being ready to sell me on the future, even specifically our future.  (Note: I speaking to myself here as well.)

Here’s a short list of things not to share in that one minute:

  • what college you graduated from
  • why you are in St. Louis
  • what your personal history is

Those might seem relevant to a decision on my part. Sure, if I decide I’m interested in hiring you. Questions like that might never get asked or might be less relevant than you might believe.

What I asked as a listener. Or a short list of what I wanted to hear:

  • what are you offering
  • what could you do for me
  • why you’re different

The difference is huge to me. Thinking around this allowed me to refine my approach as I went, and refine what I was interested in hearing.

Beyond lessons learned about how to take advantage of such an event, the question is, is a speed networking event for you?

Absolutely.

If you’ve got talents you’d like to put to better use, a product you’re excited about, or just started your own company, then networking is key. Speed networking gives you a chance to get instant feedback in a nonthreatening environment. I believe you’ll learn more in that couple of hours than the same time reading yet another book on networking.

I’d like to thank the team of St. Louis Coworking for hosting this event.  You can read more about my take on coworking at St. Louis Coworking, or visit St. Louis Coworking at The Shell Building.

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