At Oregon State University we have begun using variations on the "speed dating" model (just another name for structured networking) in a wide variety of settings. Sessions in conferences and workshops, whether keynote addresses, panels, or town hall meetings, share a common characteristic: one person at a time speaks, and everyone else is expected to listen.
After hours in that role, it is little wonder that participants pour out into breaks, hungry for conversation.
Speed-dating events are most often held in restaurants and bars, although events are cropping up in other places, like student unions on college campuses.
Participants are asked to register ahead of time to ensure an even ratio between men and women, although some services now offer registration at the door. Inside the venue, speed daters will find that tables are arranged to accommodate two participants at a time.
But another, underutilized means for strengthening them is by carefully integrating structured networking periods into the conference schedule.
There are many companies that offer speed-dating services and just about as many different techniques.
But while some details may change from service to service, the general rules concerning speed dating remain the same.
I rang the bell to reduce the speed, as I pointed out the spot to the mate.
The stars then speed by our masts and funnel till the last is gone.