By: Mariah LaRue
Speed networking is becoming an annual tradition in the MSHC program at Northwestern. Last night our class was able to participate in the event. Prior to yesterday evening, I had never been to a speed networking event, but I was excited to participate. The evening proved to be enjoyable, informative, and fun.
What is speed networking?
Speed networking is modeled off of speed dating. Participants get the opportunity to rotate tables and chat with a variety of different professionals from different backgrounds. At our event we had 9 tables, each with a person from a different company. As students, we were split into 9 groups of 3 and spent 10 minutes at each table before rotating to the next table to talk to someone new. This allowed us to meet many professionals and gain exposure to a selection of different companies in a relatively short amount of time.
What is Speed Networking Like?
In my experience, speed networking is enjoyable. Networking can sometimes sound daunting, but speed networking was comfortable, fun, and a little more relaxed than other events. Speed networking is not set up like a job fair where the expectation is to apply for jobs. Instead the point of the event is to meet different people and make genuine connections. I found this set up led to authentic and organic conversations. Each professional had such a unique story, and so many industries were represented that I found myself having interesting conversations and gleaning new insights on the field of health communication from each person. The quick short conversations and constant moving kept conversations fresh, and the two hours flew by.
Takeaways from Speed Networking
While we were able to connect with professionals from a variety of organizations and industries, there were some overarching themes that nearly everyone brought up. There seemed to be agreement across the board that the health care landscape is rapidly changing, which puts us as health communication professionals in an interesting place. While there may not be many specific job titles with “health communication” in the name, all the professionals agreed there seems to be a need for people with our skill sets in the health world. This also means we have the potential to find our way into organizations and craft our own jobs. Hearing from professionals in so many parts of of the health care industry has given me, and I hope my classmates, more ideas about how and where I can apply the skills I am learning in class. Overall, speed networking is an enjoyable and worthwhile experience whether you’re looking for a new job, or happy with the one you have. Connecting with professionals in various parts of the health space inspires novel thinking, and reminds us to consider what is happening in the industry outside of our main interests or jobs. It is certainly a worthwhile activity.