Extending these unstructured networking periods provides one way to improve these events.But another, underutilized means for strengthening them is by carefully integrating structured networking periods into the conference schedule.
After 10 minutes, we rang a bell and gave the instruction, "Shake hands and move on." After three rounds, we called a halt.
A more classic version of speed dating was used during the Farmer-Chef Connection, an educational event that seeks to foster better relationships between chefs and individual farmers.
The traditional format for this program was a mix of speeches, panels, and workshops, along with long breaks that featured outstanding food provided by the farmers and prepared by the chefs.
A speed mentoring approach was successful in sharing knowledge among farmers' market managers with different levels of experience.
Farmers and chefs used a more classic speed dating approach to forge new relationships and make deals.
Instantly, the group of 28 managers who had listened attentively for nearly 2 hours to invited experts formed 14 pairs and went at it. It was a tremendous networking and shared learning opportunity.