Inside a Speed Networking Event

Rita Borges, Talk of the Town Chef, shares her experiences at a recent SpeedNetworking event.
I am one of those individuals that would rather shovel 2 ft of snow than walk into a room of total strangers and talk about myself and even worse hear someone ramble on about his/her life changing company. But as a small business owner this is part of the job description. Business Development Institute (BDI) has come up with a generic aspirin for my headache. No they haven?t hit on a Motrin or Advil, at best a private label from Duane Reade or Rite Aid.
Their event was on a rainy Wednesday night and I debated whether or not to go since rain usually deters everything but since it was a hefty price tag to participate, I thought there might be some heavy hitters luring about. When I entered at 6:45pm, it was a full house; I guess many thought as I did. I nervously walked around looking for a sole person to connect with – no one. I then went to the bar and tried to make eye contact or get a hint of a smile from someone – no luck.
Finally, I saw a face I recognized from my early morning networking days. I went over and tried to make small talk. My anchor wanted to talk to bigger fish so he figured out a way to ditch me faster than I could explain the latest episode of the Apprentice. I was networking solo without a human safety net. An Amazonian realtor who didn?t graduate from the ?Givers Gain Academy? bombarded me with reasons on why her commercial real estate firm was the best. I nervously nodded while I prayed for this Speed Networking event to get going.
Finally the announcement came about 90 minutes into the evening. We were told to identify ourselves as ?shakers? and ?movers? and sit accordingly, shakers on one side facing the movers on the other side. Okay, I needed another diet coke for this so as I went to the bar, a well heeled man came up to me and asked, ?Do you have a partner yet?? ?No?, I replied. ?Great, lets sit together, you look like someone I can talk to?. Interesting. Where have you been the last hour, I thought.
After we sat and enjoyed our idle banter, we waited again for the event to get going. The whistle blows and the movers slide or walk over, introduce, exchange cards and listen. Robert Levin from the New York Business Report (a mover) sat with me. Eureka, he remembered me from our past glances at the Crain?s Expo and LIC Business Exchange. We clicked. All in all when the ?thing?(speed networking) got started it was enjoyable. I didn?t have to move (since I was a shaker) everyone came to me with a smile and an ear. In total I collected ten cards.
The next morning, I received a call from my last ?mover? she had an attorney and a special event planner to refer. She graduated magna cum laude from the ?Givers Gain College of Networking? and Robert Levin called to book a lunch meeting.
So was it worth schlepping on a rainy Wednesday night? Yes, but with a lower price tag.