Weeks ago, I’d never heard the term ‘speed networking.’ Yet, when our members overwhelming suggested speed networking in several feedback sessions, we thought it was time to try it out. And really, how hard could it be?
A lot more challenging than I thought, it turns out. But incredible, amazing fun.
Marketers chatting at CAMP’s first speed networking session on July 8th.
CAMP held our first speed networking session last night, and while the event wasn’t without a few bumps, it was an excellent session. Here are the top four things we learned:
- Plan, plan, plan – We were ready with a room layout diagram with chairs and tables carefully labelled. We had researched several session flow options, and chosen a version that was relatively simple. Getting everyone to speak to everyone else for several minutes at a time would require careful, firm facilitation, and we were certain that our room design would work.
- Be flexible – Our design did work, for the first two minutes, until a latecomer arrived and I hastily forced him into the mix. Then, no sooner than five rotations in, issues arose. People were repeating, talking to people they had already met. Others misunderstood the room layout, mixing up where they were supposed to go next. I stepped in, switching people around, making matters significantly worse. Finally, to finish, I had the participants find people they hadn’t spoken with. That worked, thankfully.
- Invite the right people – I’m naturally biased to believe marketers are the greatest people in the world, and last night’s group reinforced this. Our guests trickled in, with smiles and positive attitudes, ready to enjoy the evening ahead. Registrants included a nice mix of big company people, a new graduate, an MBA recently landed
from France, marketing managers and directors from mid-size companies, some agency folks, and several marketing consultants. Sure we had a few ‘What can you do for me?’ participants, but mainly people understood the basic concept of networking and let the conversations flow naturally.
CAMP’s first speed networking session was a success, with marketers from all backgrounds joining us to connect with other professionals.
- Facilitate – speed networking works because it adds structure to an awkward social gathering. Our group consisted of introverts, extroverts, and everyone in between, and leaving it to them to find their own people to speak with is silly. Make it easy for them to connect, and they will. That said, my yelling of ‘Time!’ every four minutes isn’t recommended, as it was difficult to hear, and some folks outright ignored me. Next time, I’m bringing a bell.
All in all, an incredible evening, where all our participants seemed to have a great time. Our verdict? To definitely do this again, this time with a different room layout/process, one that allows for latecomers to easily join. Most importantly, to relax and enjoy the company of marketers.
Raised in a small town in Newfoundland, Nadine headed west after graduating and fell in love with the bustle of Toronto. Her true passion is marketing and she’s spent the last 15 years in marketing roles, and is the co-founder and CEO of the Canadian Association of Marketing Professionals (CAMP). When she’s not connecting with other marketers through CAMP, Nadine is at the soccer field, gym, or swimming pool cheering on her two favourite munchkins, trying not to become that mom everyone fears.