Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Speed Dating - Association Style

Because new colleagues at other state associations, and knowing many didn't know each other or senior staff/elected leadership of national association - I set up "speed dating" session. Needed to be at executives conference where national staff and volunteers had time I could schedule.

Room set in 11 rounds -- and assigned 4 state association executives to each of 10 tables. Mixed experience levels so they could get to know each other. Those 40 stayed at same table entire time. Then 10 "daters" who changed tables -- 6 national association senior staff (chief lobbyist, human resources, chapter relations, chief legal counsel, communications/PR, and CEO), 2 national elected leaders (president and first vice president), and 2 other key volunteers (members). Note: Daters start together at table 11, groups need 10 minutes alone to decide what to do/ask when daters join.

At outset each got directory I put together - including picture (very important), name, state association, how long there, current national committees/work groups, email address of everyone participating. Same for national staff and elected leaders. Helpful to be able to take notes next to pictures/names during "speed dating" -- and to be able to connect face with names/contact info later.

"Daters" moved clockwise to next table every 8 minutes (give 2 minute warning) -- tables numbered too (gets confusing otherwise). No rules about how to spend 8 minutes - introductions, covering topic, letting dater or executives ask questions, whatever ... but time is limited. Frequently had remind daters they HAVE to move (often want to stay and continue conversation -- but not possible). Took about 2 hours to complete with group that size; includes 10 minute break in middle.

Far exceeded my expectations. Everyone got to talk with a number of people they really do need to know, in short period of time.
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