Speed dating giving way to speed networking


It had to happen. After the phenomenon of speed dating, speed networking could be set to become the latest workplace buzz.

This week second and third-year science PhD students from the north West of England gathered in Manchester to take part in an organised "speed networking" event.

Just as speed-dating saw singletons working their way around a room of potential partners, so the scientists were given two minutes each to "chat up" potential partners and contacts from other bioscience organisations.

They got their two minutes with each of 20 guests, all of whom were currently working in the biosciences sector.

They also got to take notes and could follow up any potential leads or contacts with further networking later in the evening if they wished to do so.

While at this point purely an academic initiative, the concept of speed networking has obvious potential within the workplace, particularly when many organisations are gathering at large events.

There can often be a sense that potential opportunities can be lost simply because two people did not get a chance to get together.

There may also be potential in such an approach from a careers or milk round point of view, suggested Elizabeth Wilkinson, University of Manchester careers consultant.

The event was an opportunity for the PhD students to develop their networking skills and start to think about future career directions, she said.

"Speed-networking gives them an opportunity to get a real insight into careers within a growing sector," she said.

"This event offers much more than traditional careers advisory services. While we do offer full support to students through CV analysis and one-to-one interviews, what really makes the difference is real insight from those working within a particular sector," she added.

It was part of a three-day event hosted by the university that also looked at issues of entrepreneurship and team-working within the biosciences sector.