Twenty four representatives from a variety of different small businesses in Gibraltar took part in a speed networking event hosted by the GFSB on Wednesday 17th November 2021. The popular local event that occurs twice a year was hosted at the Sala Restaurant of the Sunborn Hotel and the guests were able to enjoy a breakfast of pastries, fresh juices, tea and coffee whilst discussing their various business ventures.
After the initial introductions, attendees of the event had the opportunity to converse with each other for three minutes at a time, allowing everyone to be able to introduce themselves and their businesses to a wide variety of different people across different industries. There was also an opportunity to exchange business cards before moving on to the next table to meet the next person.
The event’s organiser, Stuart Byrne reflected on the success of the event, stating that “our speed networking event is designed to help our members’ branch out and network with new people and learn about their businesses.” He then went onto describe the variety of different businesses in attendance, explaining the unique mix of attendees that really allow the event to thrive and be lucrative for all involved, “some are start-ups and don’t have those essential pre-existing connections, some have come from other nations and need to build those relationships with people who know the Gibraltar market and some are locals who just want to branch out and find out about the other local and global businesses based within Gibraltar.”
When asked why he believed the event encourages a lot of attendees to come back each time, he mentioned that “the event has great food and drink and is always fun and enjoyable for all involved. It takes place two times a year and is a great opportunity to meet a variety of different people and find out about lots of other businesses in a short space of time, without this event it would have taken people a long time to make those same connections.”
Once the speed networking part of the event had concluded, there was then the opportunity for people to network further if they wished, allowing the opportunity to deepen those connections formed during the initial meeting. The event also allows for the prospect of business collaboration having had the chance to get to know each of the different businesses and their representatives, the final portion of the event allows the attendees to reflect on potential gaps within their own business operations and areas where collaboration could be pertinent to future success.
Some of the attendees include representatives from industries such as accountancy, insurance and sustainability.
After the event, I asked some of the regular attendees why they decided to come back to the GFSB speed networking event each time. Carmel Khalilian, the founder and director of The GreenCode which helps organisations to conduct business operations based on environmental policy, said that she returns to the event each time because it’s “a great space for inspiring innovation,” and when asked what she believed the core purpose of the event was, she stated that “it’s about bringing together different experts.”
She went onto talk about the fact that each time in attendance at the event brings something new to her business and new people to meet, “it’s so cool to have seen more new faces, it’s a pleasant surprise. It’s fun to get to know lots of people in a short period of time. It works well for new businesses and helps you to see how your networks can connect in different ways. It’s also great that it allows smaller businesses to reach out of the Gibraltar bubble and meet global companies.”
Similarly, representatives from the Beacon Press agreed that “3 minutes is the right amount of time to build connections and make an impression. It was great to see so many new faces attending the event this time.”
As well as attendees experienced in speed networking, Wednesday’s event also attracted a number of people new to the event, with the majority stating that it is their first time coming to a GFSB event with the pandemic stopping people from meeting in person. They believed that as new businesses setting up in Gibraltar, being able to connect with people face to face has been invaluable.
David Oxley, a HR consultant at Oxley HR services was a first time speed networking attendee and stated that “being able to connect with so many other people within business has been so valuable” for him. He also said that he believes events such as the GFSB speed networking “helps to get people out of their shell.”
The event was very well received by all who attended and attendees spent the last of the time networking and socialising with people that they had enjoyed meeting in the three minute timeframe. No two speed networking events are the same and there are always new people to form connections with.