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Guest Post: A Surprisingly Pleasant Introduction to Speed Networking

Posted by Ilise Benun on

Today’s guest post comes from Marketing Mentor client Mary McCauley of 5 Star Writing, who’s sent us good linkage in the past and decided to jump in with both feet this time. It’s a great lesson on what can happen when you venture out of your comfort zone, as well as an interesting story about a wild way to network.

When I had a chance to go to a speed networking event that would expose me to people in my target niche (the Technology Association of Georgia sponsored this particular event), I knew I had to go. I purposely hadn’t marketed myself since mid-November because I wanted the holiday to go by quietly and calmly. But now it was time to get back in the saddle.

In case you don’t know, speed networking is networking on steroids. You spend five minutes with a person before moving on to the next. The purpose is to convey your “value proposition,” listen to the other person communicate theirs, and see if you two either A) might be able to establish a business relationship or B) have contacts who could help that person along.

I’m not a shy person, but I find that my energy dwindles if I spend a lot of time with people. (This is actually quite normal for introverts, whereas extroverts find themselves energized by socializing. To read more about this, I highly recommend Marti Olsen Laney’s book, The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World.) Therefore, I tend to avoid those situations.

However, I’ve worked with Ilise long enough to know that resistance should often be ignored (step outside my comfort zone, just because it feels yucky doesn’t necessarily mean it will turn out that way, etc.). So I went.

And you know what? It wasn’t that bad.

In the first place, it’s almost easier than “normal” business
networking because you don’t have to worry about the conversation
dwindling and finding an easy (and polite) escape. The event moderators
move things along with an annoying buzzer every 5 minutes. Secondly,
when you focus on communicating and actively listening (it can get
quite loud in the room), the time goes by quickly. And finally, you
leave the event with a stack of business cards and a satisfied feeling.

At first it didn’t seem that anything would result from this event. The
one marketing manager I spoke to had just hired my competitor. But
later in the week when I followed up with my new contacts using
LinkedIn, one of the people I met put me in contact with a person who
worked for a direct mail marketing company. And that person happened to
be looking for a copywriter and contacted me immediately to set up a

You just don’t know how these things will end up. At worst, you meet
nobody who has anything to do with your business and who doesn’t know
anyone who has anything to do with your business. In that case, at
least you’ll end up fine-tuning your “value proposition” speech because
you repeat it 15 – 20 times.

And the best case scenario? You end up blessed with 15 – 20 new
contacts who know 2 – 3 business associates who could use your
services. You don’t have to do much math to figure out that’s a very
good thing.

—Mary McCauley-Stiff, 5 Star Writing

Thanks for the great post, Mary. Any of you other mentees (mentos? mentettes?) out there who want to play, drop us a line and we’ll see about hooking you up.

  • More in: Connecting, Guest Mixers, How to Get the Most from ______, Not for Introverts Only, Success Stories

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