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Speed Networking event at the 100 Club in Portsmouth, NH
It hardly matters any more that Emily Louick ’09 lives in New York City and Kate Wheeler ’08 in Dusseldorf, Germany. Both wanted to meet UNH alums and neither lived within 15 miles of Durham, so they did what increasing numbers of alumni are doing: they connected with each other and their fellow UNH alumni around the world via “speed networking.”
“There’s a huge network of alumni out there,” Wheeler says. “It’s a super thing for UNH to harness this technology.”
Like speed dating, speed networking allows participants to log on to their computers and connect for three minutes at a time with fellow alums.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” says Louick, a television producer who works with MTV. “But I found out it was a great opportunity to meet people.”
Although Louick was interested in networking with others in her field, she also wanted to connect socially with alums in her area. She wound up on the board of the Alumni Association’s New York City chapter.
One of several new initiatives started by the Alumni Association this past year to create simpler, more productive ways for alumni to connect professionally, speed networking has been garnering more and more followers. In addition to in person networking, online networking is offered the first Wednesday of every month through Brazen Careerist.
To date, in-person speed networking events in Boston and Portsmouth have attracted enough people to fill the room every time.
“There have always been alumni events where there has been networking,” says Megan Hales ’01, assistant director of student engagement and young alumni programs. “Speed networking allows you to meet 10 or 15 people rather than just two or three.” And when the networking is online, the new technology “gets us in front of people from New Hampshire to Arizona to San Francisco all at the same time.”
If an interest is sparked, alums may follow up, either in person or by email. For the online version, registrants provide their name, location, year of graduation and what they are looking for and what they can provide, Hales said.
For many, speed networking offers a welcome change from the typical networking events.
“It was a great opportunity to meet folks outside my typical scientific work circle, and people who are older or younger than people I typically meet at networking events,” says April Blodgett ’87, a scientist at Visterra Inc., who attended a Boston event. Blodgett describes the event as a low-pressure way to meet a dozen new people. Among the connections she made, one may lead to a speaking engagement; she also offered job search advice to a new graduate and she had lunch with another alum she promised to help connect with a friend of hers who is hiring.
Alums will get a lot more out of speed networking if they look at it as a way to be a “connector,” Hale says. “It’s a cliché but true: it’s not so much what you know but who you know.”
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Written by Rachel M. Collins '81