Interested in networking but wanting to try something new?
You’ve heard of “speed dating,” let me introduce…

Speed Networking [speed net·work·ing]


The practice of trying to form business connections and contacts through meetings at which individuals are given the opportunity to have several conversations of limited duration with leaders and/or fellow employees from other teams or departments.

Here at AT&T, we’re always looking for unique ways to connect to each other, whether it’s through our many Employee Groups or hosting networking events. Connectivity is a pillar of who we are. As I thought about different ways to connect my team with others and also show my appreciation for all their hard work, I found speed networking.

Here is what we did along with some tips to host your own Speed Networking event.

Determined our participants. The goal is to help connect participants to a larger network outside of their day-to-day team (we know this is not easy to do!), introduce them to potential future decision makers regarding promotional opportunities, and showcase different sides of the company. For my team, this consisted of individuals who were being recognized for their stellar work. Outside of recognition, other options could be speed networking within different departments, employee social groups, peers, or surveying your organization to see who would be interested.

Set a date, place, and time. Ideally, you want to give your participants ~10 minutes with each leader host, with time to mingle before and after. For the location, you’ll need a large space to set up stations for each leader host with 1-3 chairs per station for participants.

Found leaders to serve as hosts. This is a great opportunity to bring in leaders from different sides of the business that your team may not interact with on a regular basis. Communicate the logistics, date, and time. Be sure to confirm their ability to attend! If they can’t attend, consider asking for a delegate or recommendation to another leader.

Created direction. Worried your participants won’t know what questions to ask the leader hosts? Consider printing out table tents for each station with suggested networking questions, i.e. What was your favorite role? What does a day in your life look like? What does balance look like for you?

Excellence in the details. The days before and day of are important to confirm the participant and host attendance. During this time frame you’ll be able to finalize the agenda and flow with these counts. You may consider offering food and beverages for the scheduled mingle time. We organized breakfast with coffee as it was early in the morning.

Had A LOT of fun! As participants arrived, we checked in both leader hosts and participants with name tags and assigned stations. Initially participants received a starting place with the numbered station which they rotated from. For this event, it was 2 participants per host. Pro Tip! Be sure to have someone timing each rotation and alerting to the room when it’s time to switch.

Once the event begins, it goes by fast! Be sure to remind people that the purpose of the event is to establish initial contact and foster a new connection. The greatest thing about Speed Networking is that it’s quick, easy, and the potentials are endless.

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