Get the most from our table networking feature with this simple guide for M19 newcomers and associates
You may know what it's like. You may be thinking about what it's going to be like. But when you walk into a network event there are always the hopes, nerves and excitement wondering if people will get into what you're pitching. It may be your first time, you may be a seasoned professional at networking itself, but the same guidelines of good practice always apply.
With the Meet 19 Speed Meet – a version of speed networking – we've also got some new ones and quick tips which might help you make the most out of the session when meeting up to all nineteen people in the room. Feel free to comment below or write in with some additional feedback, we welcome it all, as our goal is simply to make it better experience for all present. In the meantime, here are some answered FAQs followed by some good networking practices to make a mental note or bookmark:
Your Speed Meet FAQs Answered
1. What's the difference between speed networking and the Speed Meet?
Speed networking tends to be stand alone event whereas the Meet 19 Speed Meet is part of a schedule of content combining an Expert Talk and freeform 'mingle' networking. This is also buttressed and followed up by the online marketing and information throughout the network. Hopefully this counters the notion that networking is all about being 'fast', as the Speed Meet is purely designed to give everyone a fair chance to be introduced and to meet everyone else in the room.
2. How does it work? How long do you get? Can you explain the Speed Meet session timings?
Ultimately it's the whole session is quite relaxed and fun: All you have to know is that everyone keeps moving around the tables until we've all met each other, and this can take from thirty minutes to around an hour depending on how many are present.
You get 3 minutes per 'meet', which means in fairness, about 90 seconds each (you'll hear a bell sound to tell you that half the time is left). A minute and half should be enough to introduce yourself, say what you do, why you're there and what you want. At the end of the three minutes you'll hear a loud horn and be asked to switch tables.Again, the brevity of being face-to-face for such a short space of time encourages people to cut to the chase (and not waffle, 'hold the platform' or conversely, be interrupted). Because we also have mingle networking after, it's easier (having already swapped business cards) to then both go into further solicited details at your leisure.
3. How is the Speed Meet useful for associates and newcomers?
We have found that return associates have been able to check in, repeat or improve their offers to fellow Meet19ers while at the same time consolidating promised referrals, confirming free and paid work, helping out or just agreeing to share their contacts. Naturally it also grows as a bit of a social club too.
Meanwhile we have also found newcomers enjoy the format because it's a way to break the ice between them and other business or community enterprise reps by sitting down and chatting one-to-one.
4. Do we all have to swap chairs? What do the arrows mean?
Yes. At the end of the three minutes (on hearing the loud horn) associates are asked to vacate their chairs and move to the next table in the direction of the arrows on the table in front of them. There may be specific instructions for tables further away, but don't worry: someone will be there to show you to where exactly the arrow is pointing. Believe us, you won't get lost: if you're the only one left standing then the empty chair left is yours!
Good networking practices for the Speed Meet
1. When pitching and introducing yourself
Bring contact cards, brush up your 'elevator pitch' or if that doesn't appeal, at least know what you're going to ask for and what you're prepared to offer. There should be plenty of water for a dry throat but be ready because the conversations can get quite boisterous. It can genuinely get quite passionate. Remember that if the person in front of you has nothing you need, they might know someone or a group of people or an organisation who/that does... and vice versa.
Our idiosyncratic Meet 19 approach combines the establishing of business with integrity, sharing expertise without compromising livelihoods and paying-it-forward by thinking about community enterprises – helping if and where we can. In this spirit we are about being supportive of the great work of other local or national networks without taking from them or us. It makes no business sense for us or our associates to compromise shared values or create conflicts of interest when all such groups have something generative to offer the business community. If you have an issue don't hesitate to bring it our attention and we'll see what we can do.
2. Employing ethical practices
Like all networking events there has to be a code of ethics. Ours is self-governing: we simply expect the best from people because they are the Meet 19 network. If we're about facilitating Meet 19 as a service, then you should be too. We're not about engaging in cynical business or dog eat dog/rat race clichés: Business is hard enough already. So we ask associates to be honourable in their dealings with other associates and to honour any agreements made during the Speed Meet and the events entire. The thing is, as this is networking, the word and reputation can get round pretty quick, and one can't ever make the assumption that this network (and subsequently connected networks) don't get to hear about narrow-minded takers, haters and chancers faster than you can say 'greed is good'.
3. Knowing when email collection for marketing is not a money tree
When collecting business cards please be conscious that not everyone has automatically agreed to be on your subscription to your email marketing. In fact it's bad practice to clog inboxes with your promotion just because you have a person's business email. They will especially resent being resold to a third party.
You will need to email for permission first: attending a Meet19 event doesn't mean you can just 'collect' associates. It kind of makes you look amateur, desperate and inexperienced and ignores the golden rule that when people want to buy they will let you know. Yes, email marketing can eventually be a money tree; but go look in your inbox and junk mail now and ask yourself if you want to give your time or money to people schedule-mailing you cold because they met you once and have assumed a proper relationship.
4. Using the M19 websites
Send us content and we'll stick it up. Just don't make it blatant advertising. Try and send us some relevant or current news, announcements or mutual M19 deals done with associates. For community organisations send us your info and we'll post it to promote your charity or good cause. For those willing to share their knowledge please send us your advice and we'll post it for free in this Experts in the Field blog. All posts get a link to your websites etc. All proofing, editing and SEO is free and you can reuse the copy and backlink using us. Just get in touch or catch us, Tilo or Jonny, at the event.
A few Meet 19 associates have asked us, what do you mean to bring something to give away at the event?