Here's a new way to meet prospects - speed
Like speed dating, speed networking provides several
minutes of face time to exchange information with other
On Wednesday, March 30, 23 business types gathered at
tables for two in a private area at Jillian's in Westbury.
Half the group donned red nametags; half wore blue. And
everyone was armed with a clipboard, pen and scorecard that
listed the contact information and industries of the other
Most were new to the concept, though some had previously
speed-dated. Still, everyone seemed curious about the
possibilities, especially when Jay Rosensweig, the evening's
host, announced over a microphone, "You're not just
talking to the person at the other end of the table. You're
talking to everyone they know."
A stopwatch around his neck, Rosensweig, owner of
Bayside, Queens-based FacetoFaceNetworking.com, instructed
those with red tags to sit across from those with blue. Each
duo had four minutes to chat. At the 30-second mark,
Rosensweig told them to wrap things up and jot down notes
for future follow-ups. Then he prompted the reds to stay put
and the blues to rotate to the next table.
In four minutes, participants gauged the potential for a
foreseeable match or referral. That short window allowed
little time for awkwardness. Thanks to Rosensweig's careful
orchestration, participants met every individual in the
room. The environment forced everyone to mix, rendering it
impossible for people to stick with only the people they
knew. And unlike other events, there was no pressure to
search for a friendly face in a sea of people.
This was Rosensweig's second business networking event,
though each month he runs between six to eight speed-dating
shindigs, which he started in 2003.
Like many fledgling entrepreneurs, Rosensweig hasn't quit
his day job, where he conducts investigative research for a
Manhattan-based firm. But evenings and weekends he devotes
to nurturing his own venture.
"This is my love," he said. "Long Island has been my
bread and butter. I focus on places where others don't. They
look at Long Island as an afterthought. I look at it as my
How did the participants hear about the event? "I
got this e-mail!" nearly everyone said. Rosensweig is
quick to note that he avoids spamming. On his speed-dating
mailing list, he has nearly 4,000 names, many of which are
professionals, he noted. "People forward things to
friends," he said. He also posts events online,
including Ryze's business calendar. "I pick up people
that way," he said.
Jillian's, which also hosts Rosensweig's speed dating,
doesn't charge for space but views the event as an
opportunity to educate professionals about its venue, said
Jame Cohen, Jillian's promotions manager. Cohen, who's
participated in both business-networking nights, hears
attendees say, "I'm here for the first time. I didn't
know it was for adults." That's when she tells them
about Jillian's corporate parties and regular Thursday poker
nights. Rosensweig, she said, "does a good job. People
stay longer and enjoy themselves."
"It was a good format," said Adam Waldman, a regular at
the networking events and a salesperson at Coldwell Banker
in Commack. "It was a good way of meeting people. At other
events, you're sometimes wandering. Sometimes you meet
people; sometimes you meet almost nobody. With speed
networking, you know you'll meet at least 20 people."
By evening's end, Rosensweig had seen to it that those
with blue tags circulated with the blues and the reds mixed
with the reds. In the final round, the groups sat in
clusters of four.
That sped up the evening, something for which Waldman was
grateful. "I was always rotating," he said. "I was a little
tired by the end of it."
Still, Waldman said he'd give speed-networking another
go, in hopes of meeting new people. "I suggested [to
Rosen-sweig] that he do some [networking] in Suffolk,"
That's the kind of feedback the networking guru seeks.
Similarly, he helps registrants gear up to maximize their
results by sending them networking tips and e-mail
confirmations. He keeps tabs on the flow by participating in
the event himself.
Some registrants may need more prompting than others.
One, for instance, gave a mini-lecture about his services,
which didn't go unnoticed by Rosensweig, who said,
"I'll educate him if he wants to sign up again."
Rosensweig hopes to increase the frequency of his
networking events to two each month - even more if there's
Ultimately, "I'll need to hire event planners," he said.
"I'll need to train them on my approach."
And he'll hire "mystery guests," similar to
mystery shoppers, to make sure events are run properly.
"Organization is key," Rosensweig said. "If
people are wandering around, it gives a bad perception of me
as an organizer."