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Speed networking offers a chance for quick, effective introductions

Emily Kelley
High Country Business Review
Eric Prouty, left, of Kinetico Water and Nevada Lee of VailPM.com and VailProMedi.com were among about 30 people who participated in a Vail Valley Partnership speed networking event last week.
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Business cards in hand, about 30 local business people arrived at Terra Bistro last week to sample the restaurant’s new breakfast menu and participate in the Vail Valley Partnership’s first “speed networking” event.

Cameron Lowe, the brains behind the operation, set up a format similar to speed dating, where everyone could meet and exchange business cards. Each person, sitting face to face, had 60 seconds to explain who they were and what their companies did before moving one chair to the left. Lowe rang a cowbell to let participants know when it was time to switch speakers.

“We were looking for something for partners who can’t meet for our evening events and mixers,” Lowe said. “It’s designed for those who are a bit shy, those who are scared of being perceived as a bit pushy.”

Laura Howard, who works at the Colorado Capital Bank, was among the networkers.

“I’m really excited,” she said. “It’s a vehicle to meet other people who are trying to grow their business. It’s a way to tell others what they do and have a face and a personality to go with the business.”

Pam Jonker, of J.L. Haneke Financial and Insurance Services, said the session was useful to her.

“We’re all so spread out in this valley,” she said. “It’s hard to meet people and network. It’s so important to have an event like this one.”

Sara Ross, who does marketing for Fritzlen Pierce Architects, loved the informal setting.

“It’s an opportunity to meet new contacts,” she said. “If you walk into a business, you might just meet the front-desk person. This way, you meet the appropriate people. And the breakfast is pretty good, too.”

Networking is difficult for some people. Michelle Kobelan, who works with Ross, said, “It’s a little intimidating. It’s really hard to talk to people you don’t know. This is an easy way to meet people you wouldn’t normally talk to.”

Kelly Coffey of Harebrained Marking agreed. “I’m trying to get my name out there,” he said. “It’s a guarantee I’ll meet 30 people.”

Despite a few logistical problems, people said the event was a success.

“Networking can be done within two minutes. One person tells their story, the other person tells their story, and then you move seats,” said Nevada Lee, of VailPM.com. “It’s very helpful, and it reaffirms relationships. A face-to-face is very important.”

Some business people said that during after-hours mixers, they always talk to the same people.

“I stopped going to mixers because people just talked to people they already knew. This was a great idea,” said Kevin Allen, owner of High Country Computer Services.

The event was so successful that the Vail Valley Partnership is going to host a similar event later this year.

For more information or to R.S.V..P. for the fall speed-networking event, call Cameron Lowe at the Vail Valley Partnership at 477-4001 or e-mail clowe@visitvailvalley.com.


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