Speed networking challenges business breakfasts

Some 400 visitors to the Business Start-Up Show staged in London's Docklands in May had their first taste of speed networking led by Robert Ashton, author of best selling book The Entrepreneur's Book of Checklists.

Commenting on the event Robert says: 'The energy was intense with some people coming back time and time again to queue for any untaken seats. The reason speed networking is so addictive is simple: it provides a quick, controlled environment in which people can make new business contacts. There is no early morning start, no quasi-social breakfast or buffet to slow you down - it's just straightforward, no nonsense introduction gathering.'

10 people sit in a line facing 10 complete strangers. Those in one row then have a minute to tell the person they're facing who they are; what they do; why they're different and what they're looking for. The whistle blows and they change roles, then after the next minute, one side shuffles down and the whole process starts again.

'Quite a few people emailed me after the show to tell me they'd followed up their leads and, in a few cases, already struck deals,' Robert exclaims. He attributes the success of speed networking to the fact you are encouraged to ask for introductions not business. 'By seeking introductions, you dramatically increase your chances of success and reduce the embarrassment we all feel when offered something we don't really need.'

Following his success so far, Robert is developing a franchise business. 'The days of the business breakfast are numbered,' Robert states. 'Speed networking is fast, furious and formulaic. It will make a superb franchise business.'