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Speed Networking

By Marty Nemko

Until yesterday, I hadn’t even heard of speed networking. Yet when I mentioned it to people at a party last night, a number said, “Yeah, we’re doing that.”

A spinoff of speed dating, speed networking is a fast way to connect with prospective employers, employees, clients, mentors, or protégés.

Here’s how it works. A group of people divide into pairs and each person describes himself and what he’s looking for. Every five minutes, a bell rings and everyone pairs up with someone new.

The first person who told me about it is my wife, Dr. Barbara Nemko, the Napa County Superintendent of Schools. She’s planning to use speed networking in an upcoming staff meeting. “As an easy way to do team building, we’ll ask them to share with their partner something the other person probably doesn’t know about them. Every three minutes, everyone will switch partners, so that after a half hour, each person will have had a chance to learn something new about ten people they work with.”

The University of California Berkeley’s School of Information Management and Systems’ annual career event will allow students to sit down with a variety of information professionals for seven-minute sessions over the course of 49 minutes. The event will be held at SIMS, UC Berkeley, on Wednesday, March 15, 2006, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Please e-mail if you are interested in participating.

The Napa Chamber of Commerce’s next meeting will include speed networking.

Some firms are sprouting up to facilitate speed networking. For example, facilitates web-conferenced and in-person speed networking meetings for small businesspeople and job seekers in major cities around the U.S. offers an even more efficient version of speed networking. When you register for a conference or convention, you include a profile of yourself and what sorts of people you’d like to network with. The Extreme Networking software then assigns you to a compatible speed networking group. You meet together at the conference for an hour or two. That would seem an efficient alternative to the typical networking at conferences which consists mainly of random schmoozing around the coffee urn or wine and cheese mixer.

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