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Speed-dating event connects workers in European affairs

10:56 04/12/2013

Some 250 professionals active in European affairs will gather in Brussels’ De Munt/La Monnaie tomorrow night for a speed-dating event that will see them strike up conversations with Dutch speakers working in other sectors.

 “We are bringing together 250 Flemings, all active in the European sphere,” explains Jan Buysse, the director-general of Vleva, the Flemish-European liaison agency, which is sponsoring the event. “They are experts in Belgian government institutions, the Flemish government, the European institutions and the business world. One thing links them all: they’re all professionally occupied with European affairs.”

Although speed-dating as a phenomenon started out bringing people together for potentially romantic reasons, it’s expanded in scope as a kind of networking. The principle of cutting through the elaborate rituals and small-talk to get straight to the point has found plenty of applications in business.

The Vleva event will put the European experts at the disposal of people who have signed up, giving outsiders a valuable opportunity to meet exactly the people they might want to be in contact with for career or business reasons.

“The whole intention of the event is to bring people in contact with each other,” says Buysse. So Vleva is employing a number of technical tools, including what they call an “active badge”. Registrants had to choose a number of themes from a list of a dozen they were interested in, “and when they come across someone who has an interest in common, their badge will light up so they can talk to each other.”

They can also “poke” each other, just like on Facebook. “If they want to share their contact details, they can use what a poke, which is actually an active USB stick,” explains Buysse. “Everyone has one, and if you hold two of them next to each other they exchange personal details. A sort of electronic business card if you will. They can later download all of the details they’ve collected from people during the evening.”

Written by Alan Hope