News | Jan. 24, 2020

Networking at the speed of ‘just right’

By Natalie Skelton, DLA Aviation Public Affairs

How quickly can you get to know your co-workers? The Defense Logistics Agency Aviation’s Strategic Acquisition Programs Directorate clocked it at around three minutes during its speed networking event Jan. 15 in the Frank B. Lotts Conference Center on Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia.

A total of 50 attendees from the “A” directorate gathered to discuss the “ins and outs” of their respective roles at DLA Aviation. Strategic Acquisition Programs Deputy Director Randall Dortch planned and executed the event.

“Each employee had three minutes to talk to one another and then switch, so that all 50 employees had time to talk to each other,” Dortch said. “We haven’t tried it before, and we hope it was an enjoyable event for everyone.”

Ahead of the networking event, Customer Liaison Specialist Mary Wright, Industrial Product-Support Vendor team, said she was looking forward to it.

“I’m excited! I’ll get to know my co-workers on a personal level. There are a lot of people I haven’t met before because I’ve been on a rotational [job], so this is a good event for me to get to know these folks,” said Wright.

In addition to discussing the projects they are currently working on, attendees also spoke briefly about what they liked about their jobs and what their goals are in two, five and 10 years.

Stephen Minus, program manager for bearing reform program, Boeing and GE’s Technical, Engineering and Logistical Services and Supplies, said though he and his team members have different roles, they often come together to collaborate on various projects. “I kind of know everybody; I’ve worked here since the late 1980s,” he said. “But this just helps us get to know each other not only on a work level but also on a personal level.”

Strategic Acquisition Programs Director Chris Davis, who developed the idea for the event and supervised its creation, said, “With as much work as we do together, I think it’s important that they know who we’re working with.”

The speed networking event was voluntary and it was modeled after a speed mentoring event for leaders, he said.

Davis explained the driving force behind the networking version. “I was assigning some work to an individual and I asked them to connect with someone; they had no idea who that person was, and they sat three aisles away from each other on the same floor!”

Davis said speed networking is equally important as a work-tool and a community-building tool. “The closer-knit your groups are, and the more they understand who they’re working with, the better they work together. It’s much easier to work with someone if you know a little bit about them and can put yourself in their shoes.”