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a method of making a potential business contact by briefly talking to a series of people at an organized event and exchanging contact details
'… Speed networking, as it's more often known, is a relatively new urban trend, increasingly popular in a world where social "capital" – who we know and how they can help us – is prized.'The Guardian 7th February 2005
'Newcastle-based agency Contact25 goes a step further and gets speed networkers to rate each of the contacts they meet, on a scale of one to five on the basis of how useful they might be …'BBC News 8th December 2004
You've heard of speed-dating, an organized event attended by dozens of single people who talk briefly to potential partners and decide whether they might want to see any of them again. Combine this with the idea of making professional, rather than romantic, contacts, and what do you get? – speed networking.
in a typical speed networking event, people are given five minutes or less to talk to a potential contact, and are then moved on
Speed networking is based on the idea that the usual way businesses, especially small businesses, gain new contacts or clients is by so-called networking – meeting to talk to people and exchange ideas. Traditional networking events, like conferences, are often not very productive because people tend to gravitate towards those they already know, and wouldn't normally walk up to absolute strangers, even though there are likely to be people in the room who would make promising contacts. In a dedicated speed networking event, people are given a structured environment in which they can talk to people they wouldn't otherwise have come into contact with, and can quickly decide whether there is a mutual interest without the need for polite or unnecessarily long conversations.
The exact arrangements vary, but in a typical speed networking event, people are given five minutes or less to talk to a potential contact, and are then moved on – often to the sound of a buzzer. At the end of the meeting, business cards can be exchanged, thereby sowing the seeds for a new commercial relationship.
Like speed-dating before it, speed networking has in recent months proven very popular on both sides of the Atlantic, leading to the establishment of dedicated websites such as speed-networking.net. A related countable noun speed networker describes participants, although there is as yet only limited evidence for an intransitive verb speed network.
Speed networking is of course modelled on speed-dating, a term that emerged in 1999, originating from a Los Angeles Jewish community. The more recent idea of combining business networking and speed-dating to form speed networking is also thought to have started in the US, though it seemed to emerge almost simultaneously in the UK as an innovative way to forge new business contacts.
Another recent expression in a related context is pink slip party, used mainly in the US to refer to an organized event where unemployed people have the opportunity to meet potential employers. Pink slip in the expression refers to an official notice given to an employee detailing the termination of an employment. It also occurs informally as a transitive verb, pink-slip, meaning 'to give a termination of employment notice'.
This article was first published on 19th September 2005.