Speed dating networking activity

At the most recent conference, the organizers inserted a speed dating session in the dreaded after-lunch slot on the agenda.Both groups were given worksheets that listed the types of information they might want to share.(A simple "Google search" will uncover many examples.) The Oregon Farmers' Market Association (OFMA) holds an annual conference to educate market managers about current issues.A panel of veteran market managers providing tips and suggestions has always been valuable, but it suffers from a format that is too similar to all the other sessions.Often the most animated interactions and the most valuable learning take place during breaks, meals, and receptions.Extending these unstructured networking periods provides one way to improve these events.

The primary workshop goal of making new matches largely was accomplished during the breaks.In advance, the chefs had been told to bring their menus, and the farmers instructed to bring their crop lists.Using the 8th grade dance model, the chefs line up against the wall, and the farmers went over and chose an initial "date." If it had been a smaller group (there were more than 80 participants), the chefs would have given a brief introduction so that farmers would have been better able to target their speed dates.In introducing the speed dating session, we deliberately downplayed getting to actual deals and instead discussed these desired objectives/outcomes: As it turns out, the objectives were needlessly conservative.All participants easily accomplished these three goals, and many actively engaged in deal making.

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