You've heard of eight-minute dating? Well, how about eight-minute networking? That's right, the strategy behind speed dating is now making its way into the world of meetings. Boston-based Match Events Inc. recently launched Networking-Match, a system to help professionals meet people they want to meet at conferences and trade shows to make the most of their time.

Before the meeting, attendees are asked to create a networking profile to provide pertinent information about themselves to other participants. Those who plan to participate in the networking sessions are then asked to submit their meeting requests, indicating whom they would like to meet one-on-one, and whom they would prefer not to meet with (e.g., competitors).

Participants rotate through a series of eight-minute, one-on-one meetings. During each short meeting, participants are encouraged to quickly understand each other's needs and determine if a follow-up meeting would be mutually beneficial. From that point forward, cards are exchanged and a new (business) relationship is born. Meeting planners are advised to plan well in advance to make these sessions work. Pick a time toward the beginning of your event so that people are still in a getting-to-know-you frame of mind.

For more details on eight-minute networking, visit www.networkingmatch.com.