I attended an event last week which had some 'speed' networking during the day. The host introduced this 'networking' by saying each of us present knew a few hundred people. He went on to say that this amounted to thousands of possible new opportunites by meeting six people for a couple of minutes.
This is wrong on a number of levels. It takes no account of how business networking really works and it exaggerates the number of people we actually know.
You need to know, like, rate and trust someone before you recommend them to someone else. The same is true before someone will go out of their way to recommend you. It happens after you have put real effort into building a relationship first. It is very unlikely that you will find enough in common with more than one out of the five mentioned above to be even interested in finding out more. Finding that one person is valuable, but highly unlikely to generate a quick return and certainly not the thousands of opportunities promised.
I wrote about the number of people we actually know in a recent post on the 'Real Value of Online Networks'. The Social Scientist, Robin Dunbar, has demonstrated that human beings can only maintain stable social relationships with about 150 people. These relationships will be spread over a number of different real life social networks so that your close business network for recommending people from will be much smaller than 150.
You can be known to more people and be acquainted with more, but for someone to know you well enough to recommend you then you need to be in that 150.
The real value of the speed networking was for finding opportunities with them for introducing my existing network!