A speed mentoring approach was successful in sharing knowledge among farmers' market managers with different levels of experience.Farmers and chefs used a more classic speed dating approach to forge new relationships and make deals.
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.A more classic version of speed dating was used during the Farmer-Chef Connection, an educational event that seeks to foster better relationships between chefs and individual farmers.The traditional format for this program was a mix of speeches, panels, and workshops, along with long breaks that featured outstanding food provided by the farmers and prepared by the chefs.As an antidote, Robert Chambers, in his superb book Participatory Workshops, proposes the "buzz": "So easy. Invite participants to buzz with others next to them--about what has just been covered or done, an issue that has arisen, the agenda.
The immediate wake-up often includes learning by talking." Speed dating takes these conversations a step further by focusing on a specific topic of interest and by recognizing that individuals fill different roles in many conversations.
All participants easily accomplished these three goals, and many actively engaged in deal making.
After 10 minutes, we rang a bell and gave the instruction, "Shake hands and move on." After three rounds, we called a halt.
The event organizer gives up control of the actual content of the interactions, but that is a small price to pay.
Speed networking (or speed business meeting) is a meeting format designed to accelerate business contacts, generally with a bell.
(Some juggling had to be done to make the two groups of equal size.) Worksheets were passed out to serve as discussion starters.