Speed networking is taking the business world by storm—and for good reason. You meet more people, you don’t get stuck talking to the wrong person, and you maximize your time talking to like-minded professionals.
But attending a speed networking event isn’t the same as attending a traditional networking events. It requires a different mindset and a different approach. And even though networking—no matter what format—can be intimidating, it doesn’t have to be. Coming prepared, with best practices in mind, can help ease your nerves so you can focus on creating meaningful connections.
Here are ten speed networking tips + tricks to ensure success:
1. Practice a firm handshake.
You only get one chance to make a good first impression and that all starts with a handshake. There’s nothing worse than shaking hands with what feels like limp noodles. Your handshake should be firm – a firm handshake exudes confidence and it’s often the first thing people notice about you. On the other hand, if your hand shake is *too* firm, it can come across as a sign of over-dominance. Finding the balance is key. Practice with family or friends to ensure you’re getting it right.
2. Prepare an elevator speech.
While we don’t want to play the role of Captain Obvious, preparing a quick, concise elevator speech is key to successfully speed networking. Afterall, it’s called speed networking for a reason. In this case, an elevator speech should answer who you are, what you do, and why you’re attending the event in 30 seconds or less.
3. Look at your schedule ahead of time.
One of the best parts about speed networking is your personalized schedule. Thanks to our online survey that allows you to pre-select the types of people you’re interested in meeting, it’s filled with like-minded individuals rather than random attendees. Look at your schedule ahead of time to learn about people's’ background ahead of time and think of some questions you want to ask them.
4. Come with the correct materials.
This includes a pen, paper to take notes, and business cards at the very least. No matter how good you think your memory might be, it’s difficult to remember details about people you’re just meeting—especially at networking events where you’re trying to meet as many new people as possible. Taking notes is a good way to ensure you’re able to retain information. Plus, you’ll be able to send much more personalized follow-up emails.
Quick speed networking tip: After you’re done talking to someone, write three things about them on the back of their business card or on your personalized schedule.
5. Dress to impress.
What you wear is a reflection how you chose to present yourself. You should wear clothes that are comfortable and event-appropriate. If you’re ever unsure of the proper attire to wear, keep in mind it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed.
6. Be a resource first.
The best networkers ask themselves, “What can I do for you?” not, “What can you do for me?” Relationships are built on trust, and you won’t get anywhere if you have a me, me, me attitude. Think about ways you can help others, and they’ll help you in return.
7. Ask questions.
Speed networking is much more fast-paced than traditional networking events and it’s easy to lose track of time and end up talking about yourself the whole time. Asking lots of questions ensures a two-way conversation. And it’s the best way to get to know the person across from you.
8. Have a networking-related goal in mind.
Ask yourself what you want to take away from this event—why you’re attending it in the first place. This goal should drive every conversation you have.
9. Be yourself.
There’s only one you and your skills and experience are unique. Don’t shortchange yourself and pretend to be someone you’re not. People appreciate authenticity and it's key to cultivating meaningful connections with the people around you.
10. Follow up.
We cannot stress the importance of following up after attending a speed networking event enough. Because your time together is so short, it’s key to follow up in order to keep the conversation going. Send a thank you email, add them on LinkedIn, or send them a handwritten note.
So, there you have it – 10 speed networking tips and tricks to get you on your way to networking glory in no time. If you're interested in learning more about our matching software and personalized schedules, let's chat!