Ever been to a real speed dating event? Speed dating is a structured matchmaking process for singles to meet a large number of potential partners in a short period of time. Match-seekers are looking for a counterpart and have no time to waste. Hence, the speed in speed dating. The rules typically require advance registration, a profile assessment, and no sharing of contact information during the short meetings. Time is of the essence.
Speed dating may have its origins in the 19th century with an event known as New Year’s Calling. This was a tradition possibly of Dutch origin that involved gentlemen (usually young, eligible ones) visiting the homes of single young women on New Year’s Day. A century later, one of the earliest examples of modern speed dating was in 1996 by Rena and Aryeh Hirsch of Los Angeles. The pair wanted to solve the problem of typical singles events where “only attractive women and outgoing men have success at the end of the evening.” Hirsch has made an impressive impact on the Jewish community where she focused many of her early efforts on match-making for Jews who were in the process of becoming observant. She regularly hosted weekly Shabbat dinners where twenty-five or more guests would join together at her home with the intention of finding a compatible partner. Hirsch’s work has resulted in at least fifty marriages and the establishment of a more formalized match-making process.
And, then there’s the modern legacy of speed dating for logistics. For twenty-six years, The ECA, A Delivery Industry Alliance has been hosting its “speed dating for shippers and carriers,” event, otherwise known as the ECA MarketPlace. This year’s ECA MarketPlace will take place April 11 – 13 in Tucson, Arizona. The deadline to register for the event is March 11!
Similar to social speed dating, the ECA MarketPlace is a two-day professional event centralized around fifteen minute meetings between well-matched shippers, carriers, and their vendors. The ECA uses proprietary software to arrange each attendee’s meeting schedule, carefully aligning the needs and capabilities of all parties. The meetings are strategic opportunities to forge new relationships and strengthen old ones. At the ECA MarketPlace in 2019, over 500 company representatives participated in over 5,000 meetings. Many of these meetings transform into lasting business relationships that span decades.
An ECA Member and regular MarketPlace attendee reflects on his experience:
In 2007, sitting at the table for another of the fifteen minute “speed dates” for carriers and shippers we had the good fortune to begin – what eventually became fifteen years and counting – a great business partnership that is still growing.
Better still, we have a fabulous relationship with the person who was sitting on the shipper’s side of the table. We count him as a great friend. Over the years we have played golf, broken bread, and enjoyed attending a college football game together.
So, for us, that one meeting was fortuitous. You could say it was “15 for 15.” Fifteen minutes for fifteen years of good business, fifteen years of a great relationship, and fifteen years of fun. You never know at the ECA MarketPlace – when the bell rings and you go to that next shipper’s table, it could be another “15 for 15” all over again.
In speed dating, the best strategy is to “be yourself”, and most speed dating services recommend being genuine. Likewise, being genuine, factual, and forthcoming is the key to successful ECA MarketPlace meetings. Members of the ECA, A Delivery Industry Alliance have an online profile. Updating that profile in the Member Portal regularly is essential for a successful meeting schedule at the MarketPlace because the ECA’s match-making software draws data from Member profiles. The accuracy of the profile drives the ranking (on a scale of 1 to 5) that both shippers and carriers use to express their desire to spend time with another potential shipper or carrier at the MarketPlace event. The rankings then feed into the ECA software and – voila! – a meaningful meeting schedule is created for each attendee.
Social speed daters are searching for that “special someone.” Same for ECA MarketPlace attendees. We are searching for partners with business solutions. The two days of speed dating that happen annually at the ECA MarketPlace result in long-term matchups of shippers, carriers, and their vendors where the ROI becomes quite clear and easy to calculate. The fifteen-minute professional meetings lead to fresh ideas, the ideas lead to solutions, and the solutions lead to new business relationships.
That next meeting at the ECA MarketPlace may lead to your next great business partnership and an even greater friendship. So, bottom line?
We can’t wait to see you in Tucson!