On 17 October 2014 I was proud to be one of a large group of people that broke The Guinness Book of World Records for The Most Number of People Attending A Business Speed Networking Event At A Single Venue.
Prior to this day the record was held by Australia and stood at 475 participants where each participant networked with 21 people.
How Did It Work?
The event was hosted by Entrevo. They sold tickets to over 600 people for Their Brand Accelerator Day at The Mermaid in Puddle Dock (Blackfriars, London) to take part in the event. They needed at least 500 people to show up to ensure that we had a chance of breaking the world record.
10 minutes prior to the event we were still 20 people short. The CEO of Entrevo, Darshana Ubl, and her team had been going crazy calling no-shows for the last hour trying to get to 500+.
Anyhow, long story short, the Entrevo team managed to get 510 people into the room prior to the start; Darshana went through how the rows would network with each other and speed networking began.
I totally underestimated what hard work this would be. Because I was speaking to people in a lower row in a VERY loud room I a) had to speak loudly to be heard and b) sometimes had to bend for effective communication. The strain on my pregnant back was massive. On top of it all I needed to use the ladies almost from the start but the rules meant anyone that left the room was automatically disqualified. I’ve pretty much mastered holding my need for the loo for 2 to 3 hours so I was fine.
The whole process took about 1.5 hours. Of the 22 people I spoke to only one was completely boring - everyone else was rather interesting; a few people I could possibly work with in the long run.
The Guinness Book Officials needed a few hours to count the papers.
When the announcement was made the GB Official looked sombre. I was pretty sure he was going to say it had gone wrong. He started off with all the bad news: It transpired that in the midst of the speed networking drive some losers had left the room for “urgent” meetings and mundane reasons such as “I can’t do this”.
He concluded with (and I paraphrase), “Australia holds the record with 475 attendees. Because although we started with 510 people many had to be disqualified, I’m here to tell you that…” he not only paused for effect but pursed his lips like he was reading a eulogy (and quite frankly Darshana looked like she might cry), “with 487 networkers you’ve beat the record.”
Cheers all round. I even jumped out of my chair and did a happy dance. My only hope is currently that I wasn’t caught on camera because for a moment there, I completely lost my marbles.
By Heather Katsonga-Woodward
I'm always thinking, debating, considering and revising my views - some of those deliberations will be shared right here.