Market speed dating event
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.
Both groups were given worksheets that listed the types of information they might want to share.
In advance, the chefs had been told to bring their menus, and the farmers instructed to bring their crop lists.
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.
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At the 2003 meeting, OFMA replaced the panel with "Speed Mentoring." The entire group divided itself into two categories--experienced managers and inexperienced managers.
Extending these unstructured networking periods provides one way to improve these events.
But another, underutilized means for strengthening them is by carefully integrating structured networking periods into the conference schedule.
The experienced managers listed three significant lessons they had learned in managing markets. The experienced managers stayed put, while the inexperienced rotated one station.
The experienced mangers lined up against one wall (think an 8 grade dance), and then the inexperience managers selected one for a conversation. Instructions were given to talk about either the same topics (since different people might have different views) or new ones. After a second period had passed, this conversation was closed, and the speed mentoring ended.