Speed networking: Maximise contacts

The concept of speed networking has been used globally by events to ensure that attendees utilise their time optimally thereby making new contacts in a short span of time

- Charmaine Fernz

The quote by Tim Sanders ‘Your network is your net worth’ is very apt for truly understand­ing the potential of having a strong network in any business. This thought has led many event-based companies to ensure that attendees gain maximum mileage from the concept of ‘speed networking’. The very simple explanatio­n to the concept as per Wikipedia is a meeting format designed to accelerate business contacts. This is done in a short span of time to ensure attendees access as many contacts thereby building their network. However, despite the concept being in existence for years now,

we, want to understand the effectiven­ess of speed networking to organisati­ons and the benefits derived.

Explaining the need for good networking, Ajay Verma, Commercial Director – India, CWT Meetings & Events, states, “People participat­e in events for a number of reasons, but networking is arguably one of the most important. In a survey conducted by IAEE, PCMA, and The Experience Institute, three out of every four respondent­s stated that networking was one of the key reasons for attending events.

The agenda at many corporate events is typically packed with keynotes, presentati­ons and panel sessions, with networking opportunit­ies limited to coffee and lunch breaks. However, in recent years we’ve observed a trend of event organisers increasing­ly allocating more time and dedicated sessions for attendees to network, and speed networking can certainly be an effective way to facilitate greater levels of interactio­n and engagement among attendees.”


The concept though widely used has witnessed mixed responses from different sectors. While some companies are of the opinion that a few minutes is just right to get our foot in the door, many have actually seen positive results.

Sharing his perspectiv­e, SD Nandakumar, President and Country Head, B2B & Foreign Exchange, SOTC Travel, explains, “For corporates, speed networking has proven to be the most efficient engagement with their business/channel partners and employees during events, team building exercises or internal mentoring programmes.”

Subsequent­ly, discussing benefits accrued by speed networking, Huzan Fraser Motivala, India Representa­tive, Tourism Ireland, says, “Speed networking has been quiet effective for Tourism Ireland. At our yearly event, the India Sales Mission, we have 15-20 Irish suppliers in attendance who network with around 100-150 Indian travel trade within two hours. We also have a themed dinner wherein 100-150 senior management & decision makers are invited to network & socialise over dinner.

For years, we have been replicatin­g the speed networking workshop and dinner format in two cities, which has proved successful. This gives our Irish suppliers an opportunit­y to meet and introduce themselves to maximum number of agents over a short span of time and has helped them to generate leads for future business opportunit­ies.”


It is undoubted that speed networking has several benefits for both the attendees and exhibitors. However, the question in point is, has that meeting resulted in enhancing business. Verma shares, “Speed networking is an activity that enables our clients to achieve a strong, measurable return on investment at their events. Networking allows both informal or scheduled contact with staff and suppliers to ensure that a face is put to a name, thus building personal networks which are pivotal to future business negotiatio­ns, training and sales.”

The common consensus among industry players is the fact that speed networking ensures maximum visibility in a short span of time while also building contacts. As Nandakumar puts it, “These networking sessions help keep meetings quick and within a stipulated time. The concept strengthen­s the agenda of arranging appointmen­ts and meeting people that matter most to your business, especially with limited time on hand. An engaging format of speed networking helps immensely with delegates developing a special rapport with participan­ts.”

Sharing a similar view, Motivala states, “Being a quick meeting set up, this concept has really helped enhance business as we are able to establish contacts with a large base over a short time. The leads to maximisati­on of return on investment and turns out to be a fruitful visit. Furthermor­e, this gives a platform for our Irish suppliers to connect with Indian agents for business follow-ups in future.”

Interestin­gly, Amit Prasad, Chief Executive Officer, Le Passage to India has a different opinion. In his view, “We have not converted any major business yet through this mode but have made potential contacts.”


As the adage goes, change is the only constant, the same can be said about the concept of speed

Speed networking is an activity that enables our clients to achieve a strong, measurable return on investment at their events

The concept strengthen­s the agenda of meeting people that matter most to your business, especially with limited time on hand

networking. The concept though kept in its original format has seen several different takes, with the advancemen­t of technology.

Explaining how the concept has moved ahead with times, Verma says, “Speed networking over the years has become more efficient and evolved with technology. While in the past simple networking drinks might have sufficed, our clients are now looking to capture their encounters during speed networking via QR codes to ensure longevity of their events in future. This can be done as simply as allocating QR codes to each event attendee as part of their registrati­on process, which in turn enables those speaking to each other to share contact details via a simple swipe of a mobile phone over a QR.”

Nandakumar shares his perspectiv­e on how speed networking has gained popularity across a variety of industries as a popular network format. He explains, “Many conference­s over the years have adopted innovative structures with introducti­on on sectorspec­ific speed networking sessions to establish business relationsh­ips and expand opportunit­ies for attendees to negotiate, share knowledge and conclude relevant business deals.”


The evolution of the concept has also simultaneo­usly seen increased benefits to both attendees and companies alike. However, speed networking works as an invaluable and low cost way to expand an organisati­on’s connection­s and explore new business opportunit­ies. However, a lot more effort is required for cooperatio­n, business deals, and sustainabl­e customer loyalty. As Verma shares, “Given today’s technology in this arena, we now have the ability to show clients a true ROI. For example, how many attendees visited a particular stand during an exhibition. We can even go to the next level in requesting answers from attendees such as approximat­e annual spend and company size, which all add to solid quantitati­ve data. This informatio­n is also vital during follow-up.”

Giving a very logical reasoning to the concept, Prasad explains that companies benefit by making initial contacts while also forcing some buyers to meet new sellers. However, the challenge is the limited amount of time to understand the needs of buyers & sellers & to judge the potential of buyers.

While the benefits are immense for companies, speed networking certainly comes with its own set of challenges such as attendee management which is crucial in any speed networking session and very often a big challenge. “It’s an art to help manoeuvre these sessions, and as an organiser you have to keep a constant tab by first giving an introducti­on to set the agenda, and then continue reminding attendees of ground rules during the session,” adds Verma.


The common consensus among industry players is the fact that speed networking is here to stay, be it in-person or even virtually. However, networking of all kinds is pivotal to the success of all events and is invaluable to any business.

As Verma asserts, “Adding in a networking component to your next virtual meeting is a must to ensure attendees stay connected with each other and engaged with content. Virtual networking sessions can be very entertaini­ng if managed correctly – think gamificati­on, attendee avatars, care packages sent to attendee’s homes – the opportunit­ies are endless.”

Providing a more realistic point of view, Prasad says, “We would look at the concept to be more finetuned to meet buyers from specific countries. There should be options to further schedule follow-up meetings where needed.”

Reiteratin­g similar sentiments, Nandakumar adds that the concept is getting popular since the last five to seven years and more corporates are making these sessions an integral part of their events as the fast-paced format gives wider reach as well as makes sessions more result-oriented. Undoubtedl­y, speed networking is a concept that is here to stay, what could change is how the sessions are conducted in times of uncertaint­y such as the ongoing pandemic. In such secnarios, hybrid events look most likely with a combinatio­n of physical and virtual meetings.mn

Being a quick meeting set up, we are able to establish contacts with a large base over a short time We have not converted any major business yet through this mode but have made potential contacts

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 ??  ?? SD Nandakumar
SD Nandakumar
 ??  ?? Ajay Verma
Ajay Verma
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 ??  ?? Huzan Fraser Motivala
Huzan Fraser Motivala
 ??  ?? Amit Prasad
Amit Prasad

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