On a Saturday night, after another riveting week of walking around my living room and failed attempts at making cold brew, I turned off The Sopranos, put on a fresh pair of sweatpants, and got ready for a date. Actually, I got ready for 23 dates — all at the same time. That's right, folks: At the height of a global pandemic, I went Zoom speed dating and attended a virtual singles mixer.
Although the phrase 'Zoom singles mixer' may sound like it was written by the creators of Cards Against Humanity, many dating companies and matchmaking services have opted to move online since social distancing began. Take video-dating app Filter Off, for example, which has seen a major surge in its speed dating sessions, Bumble's collaboration with BuzzFeed, which sets up strangers on live-streamed first dates. Eventbrite even reports a 1000% increase in online events in April, with 'speed dating' becoming a new trending search term. This is the wild, wild west of internet culture and behavior.
Virtual speed dating may come with little reward, but it also means little risk.
Speed networking is a structured and fast paced networking event allowing participants to interact with others, typically in a series of brief one-on-one information exchanges. Speed networking takes its cue from speed dating, an event where individuals are allowed a short amount of time to meet a number of prospective dates, one at a time,. Share Baltimore Video Speed Dating - Filter Off with your friends. Save Baltimore Video Speed Dating - Filter Off to your collection. Fri, Mar 12, 8:00 PM + 14 more events.
In mid-March, when my city officially banned group gatherings and began living in isolation, I received an email from Rachel Breitenwischer, co-founder and COO of Here/Now (formerly Perchance), a dating and human connection company that hosts events for singles. She invited me to an upcoming virtual singles mixer.
While I've never been one for ice-breakers, I've always been intrigued by the prospect of experiencing love at first sight in real-time. So, I applied to attend an upcoming mixer on the Here/Now website, listing my name, age, gender, and career, and ticking off my top three 'personal values' from a list including traits like creativity, adventure, independence, and kindness. Lucky me.
As the mixer drew close, I received an email with the Zoom link and some instructions for the night. I was told to bring an object to share with the group, something that 'shed a little color on what made me uniquely myself.' The idea of an adult 'Show & Tell' made me nervous. Would people take it too seriously? Would I look like a jerk if I didn't take it seriously enough? Would there be a man in his mid-30s, showing off a trophy from his college rowing team? (Spoiler alert: Yes to all three.)
Although I am prone to overthinking, Meredith Golden, dating coach and dating app expert, says that virtual meet-ups may actually help you quell some of your first-date 'what if's.'
'Video chatting and Zoom speed dating act as a great screening tool,' Golden tells Bustle. '[You can] decide if someone should be on your ‘meet when it’s safe' list or if the process should stop now so you can protect your time.'
And protect my time I did. In just over an hour, the Here/Now mixer introduced me to 23 singles. The event started with an entire group Zoom and broke off into randomly selected 'Breakout rooms,' where three or four of us were prompted to answer — you guessed it — ice-breakers.
While I personally struggled to earnestly answer, 'What kind of child were you?' or 'What was something people wrongly assumed about you?', others appeared to respond enthusiastically to the provocations. With the exception of my sarcastic tendencies, the group divulged confessions about their dream houses or proudest accomplishments, making visible connections with each other in the process.
A guy vaguely resembling Aaron Samuels asked me, 'Well, are you looking for a date or an article?'
Although I had to tilt my computer screen down in order to roll my eyes in peace, I was thankful I hadn't left my house. Virtual speed dating may come with little reward, but it also means little risk. Essentially, I still had to put myself out there, but I got do it while wearing an elastic waistband and lounging on my couch — which, in retrospect, is not the worst thing in the world.
'[Going to an online singles event] is an easy way to dip a toe in the water,' Golden says. 'It’s a controlled environment, and you don’t have to be the main attraction. A bad date reminds someone that they don’t have to waste their time, and it's an empowering reminder that you are in charge of your clock and calendar.'
Although I wasn't 'allowed' to talk about work, I accidentally mentioned that I was a sex and relationships writer. A guy vaguely resembling Aaron Samuels asked me, 'Well, are you looking for a date or an article?'
I told him I'd be happy with either. But I think I knew, even then, that I'd only be leaving with one.
Meredith Golden, dating coach and dating app expert
Speed Networking: A Quick Way to Expand Your Professional Contacts
Networking can be one of the most powerful and productive activities an individual can do to launch and manage their career. Building an interconnected group of relationships with others is at the core of a person’s effectiveness both personally and professionally. In the workplace today, we need to be known to others as well as ensure that others are aware of how we might be a resource for them. Whether student, young careerist, or seasoned professional, having a network of people you can tap into for information, advice and opportunities, while sharing your own, is paramount.
Over the past five years, speed networking has emerged as a variation of traditional business networking activities for meeting people. Speed networking is a structured and fast paced networking event allowing participants to interact with others, typically in a series of brief one-on-one information exchanges. Speed networking takes its cue from speed dating, an event where individuals are allowed a short amount of time to meet a number of prospective dates, one at a time, and then choose who they would like to provide their contact information. Where interest is mutual, the contact leads to a date.
Speed networking is the business version of speed dating. However, in speed networking events, the participants readily share contact information with each other and decide themselves who they will follow up with. This type of event can provide exposure to a lot of people in a short amount of time. It is a way to let others know who you are and what you are looking for, whether new customers or clients, business or sales leads, or a new job or internship. Colleges and universities may offer speed networking events where employers and alumni are invited to meet students looking for internships, jobs, or mentors, or where alumni can meet each other. Professional associations and chambers of commerce may offer speed networking opportunities at a monthly meeting or as part of an annual conference.
Round Robin Format Moves Briskly
The typical format for speed networking is called a round robin. The event leader will usually ring a bell, sound a buzzer, or blow a whistle to indicate the beginning and end of each round. Once the round begins, you introduce yourself and your purpose for being there, share your business card and perhaps, business brochure. A few questions and answers back and forth can quickly clarify if there is any potential for a follow up phone call or meeting. At the halfway point, the conversation switches to the second person, who introduces themselves and their reason for attending. After a second exchange of information, the event leader rings a bell and you move on to the next person.
Over the next hour or two, you continue to meet individuals, one at a time. Ideally, the event culminates with time allowed for open networking, either for talking to individuals you did not get to talk to, or seeking out someone who you met during the event and continuing the conversation.
Some variations of speed networking include meeting with a succession of small groups of individuals throughout the event. Upon arrival, pre-registered participants are assigned a sequence of groups or tables to follow during the event, insuring that they are always meeting new people in each group. Another variation matches people up ahead of time based on their purpose for attending the speed networking event.
Exclusive dating service in mountain home idaho jobs. Preparation for Speed Networking
- Practice a 60-second statement that includes your name, title or occupation, and what you are looking for, such as information, leads, a job or internship. Some people like speed networking because you get right to the point and there is no time for small talk.
- Make sure you have a supply of business cards ready. Sometimes event planners will suggest a number; bring at least 30. If you are unemployed at the time, get business cards with your contact information and occupation printed on them.
- Assemble brochures, resumes or other type of handout, if applicable.
- Bring a pen, notepad, and your appointment calendar with you.
- Usually attire is either business or business casual. Check with the organizers if it is not stated.
- Remember that you have a few seconds to make a positive first impression.
During the Event
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- First of all, have fun. The fast pace of this kind of event contributes to a high level of energy in the room.
- Usually 2-5 minutes are allowed for each round; the leader will inform the group about the time frame.
- As you meet each person, shake hands and exchange names and business cards. Read each card as you accept it. A good system to keep the cards organized: keep your business cards in one jacket pocket, and the business cards given to you in the other.
- The first person introduces themselves and their purpose, and a very brief conversation takes place.
- Be extremely aware of the time factor so the second person doesn’t get their time cut short. Talking too long in a situation like this is highly insensitive and damages your first impression.
- Take notes on the back of your partner’s business card. This may include notes on how they look or what they are wearing to help you remember them.
- Suggest a next step, if appropriate. You will not have time to schedule a phone call or meeting, so follow up the next day will be important.
- Above all, respect the process. At the signal, end your conversation immediately and move, or allow the other person to move, to next person. You can always continue conversations later.
After the speed networking event, review the business cards of the individuals you met and scan or enter the information into the contact database software you may use. Send an email within 24-48 hours to each person you want to follow up with. Better yet, make a phone call to continue the conversation or book a meeting or lunch to move the relationship along.
Certainly, one of the goals of speed networking is to meet new individuals who can directly be of help to you. But your goal shouldn’t stop there. Each person you meet has a network of individuals they know, and it may be one of those persons who will be a good match for you. By meeting individuals during the course of a speed networking event, you potentially “plug in” to the people they know, greatly extending your ability to connect with individuals related to your goals.
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To be effective at your job, manage your career, and find new opportunities, it’s not just what you know and what you can do, but also who you know. Speed networking can be another tool in your professional toolkit to contribute to your success.