Today marked the official launch of the fifth annual Global Entrepreneurship Week, powered by the Kauffman Foundation. This year, there are about 129 countries participating in GEW by hosting more than 30,000 events worldwide. In our little neck of the woods, the home of the Foundation of Entrepreneurship, there was plenty of buzz and excitement.
My company, Kauffman FastTrac, is focusing on NETWORKING as its GEW theme this year (bet you can guess whose idea that was!). With that, I had the privilege of appearing on one of our local news programs to provide an overview of Coffee Lunch Coffee and promote a networking workshop that I hosted for nearly 100 registrants. The workshop seemed to be well received. Participants completed the first four exercises from CLC – that is, they made their four lists:
- List 1: People You Know
- List 2: People You Want to Know
- List 3: Companies/Organizations You Admire and Want to Get to Know
- List 4: Your Values/Non-Negotiables
I also covered Eric Morgenstern’s tips for networking at a large networking event as I and many of the workshop participants headed over an event called, “Break A World Record Speed Networking.” Thus, the theme for this post.
Before I tell you more about it, I must admit, the jury was out for me going into this one. When I learned that the planners were hoping to get at least 400 people to sit in a hotel ballroom, poised to meet 25 other people during three minute long conversations (each person getting a minute and a half to pitch themselves), I was skeptical. Especially considering that I essentially claimed in a recent post that there has never been an award for the most business cards collected, I was not so eager to be proven wrong! I honestly wondered whether any meaningful connections could be had in such a short period of time.
Well, for starters, it appears the world record was, in fact, claimed tonight (that’s pretty cool – fun to be part of it)! Indeed, 400 eager networkers showed up at the Sheraton Crown Center, each armed with at least 25 business cards and/or brochures to share with their new connections which included business owners, aspiring entrepreneurs, business resource organizations, service providers and anyone with an interest in helping grow small business in the Kansas City region.
Now, I still don’t think that meaningful, deeply committed relationships were formed tonight, but what did happen was that 400 people had the opportunity to practice their elevator pitches, 400 people had the opportunity to learn about at least 25 businesses in their community and 400 people had the chance to grab a quick touch point with at least 25 other people – some of whom they will choose to pursue in order to develop more meaningful relationships, all of which now know a little bit more about their business. Definitely an hour and a half well spent!
And, so, I stand corrected. [Speed] Networking events, even for very quick, high level touch points, can be extremely useful. They are not the way to form lasting, meaningful, long-term, mutually beneficial relationships, but they can be a way to get the ball rolling toward achieving that goal. If you have the opportunity to attend such an event, I encourage you to do so.