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Networking: breakfast vs speed vs online

If you’re reading this, I’m sure you’ve been told countless times why networking is good for business, so we’re not going to ask you to read it all yet again. However, have you considered which type of networking might work best for you and your business? We’ve looked at the three main types of networking for you, and the pros and cons of each one.  

Speed Networking

What is it?

A method of meeting lots of contacts in a short space of time. Usually similar in layout to speed dating, it involves a rotation of networkers at regular intervals (usually somewhere between1-5 minutes).


  • Volume of contacts. You’ll meet lots of people quickly, and even though not everyone is relevant in an obvious way to you, they may well be in the future. 
  • Less small talk. Ideal for those who aren’t as keen on chit-chat. You get to make the connections in a super structured way, and you’ll only just have enough time to introduce yourselves and what you do before you move on. 
  • Attracts a different crowd. People who wouldn’t necessarily have time or confidence to attend other types of networking will attend speed networking, so you’ll meet new contacts you wouldn’t anywhere else!

  • Can feel a little impersonal if not run well.
  • You might find more people just looking to sell than to make contacts

Breakfast networking

What is it?

As it sounds, it is a networking session run early in the morning with a breakfast provided. Usually there’ll also be a structured opportunity for you to stand up and talk for a minute about your business and what you’re looking for. 
There’s often a time afterwards for you to have face to face conversations and swap business cards with people other than the ones you’re sat near.


  • Longer conversations. You can have more in depth chats as you are sat near the same people throughout the breakfast.
  • You get breakfast. Often held at a hotel, you will get a delicious complimentary breakfast!
  • Doesn’t take up your work day. These are usually held early in the morning, and finish with enough time for you to get to the office and start your work day. You won’t need to use your precious time off to attend.

  • You meet a few contacts, and there’s no guarantee the people you sit near will be relevant to you.
  • There’s always a risk of spilling food on your tie!

Online networking

What is it?

A newer type of networking that is quickly taking off, online networking is often through a dedicated online community or in a social media group. This can take many forms, but is often through discussion of a particular business topic.


  • Not location specific. You can network with anyone from anywhere, real time!
  • Can have more variety. With more people able to access the groups, you can end up with a lot more variety of contacts than you would in person. You’re also likely to catch people who are too shy or uncomfortable going to physical networking events.
  • Time saving. You can network from the comfort of your own home, your desk or anywhere! You don’t need to travel and spend time at an event.
  • More niche communities. You can find a network of people covering virtually any interest or aspect of business, in any sector.

  • Not meeting people face to face can take longer to build trust, which is important when building connections.
  • We’re constantly told to use our devices less, and you might notice a significant increase in your screen time!

So, hopefully this guide has helped you decide on a type of networking you’d like to give a go, and we wish you the best for it! If you’re looking for some tips on getting the most out of the actual networking, why not check out these tips to growing your business through networking, and networking mistakes you should avoid.

If you’re not sure what will work best for you, don’t panic. You can try out each type, for no cost, at the Northern Business Expo in Manchester Central on 17th & 18th March 2020. There’s speed networking hosted by Dell, four networking sessions run by different companies that you can try out, and an exclusive breakfast networking session you can request an invitation to. With thousands of business owners and professionals attending, it’s the biggest networking opportunity in the North of England, and you can get your free ticket online now.

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