Man and woman on a braindate at C2 Montreal 2019

So… What’s a Braindate?

How to use Braindate to make the most of an event experience

Categories in The Essentials

You’ve just arrived at an event, and you notice that Braindate is part of the experience. Maybe you’re standing by the Braindate Lounge, a bustling gathering place, where you see other event participants deep in conversation, in groups of two or more. You wonder, “What is Braindate?” Then, “ Is this worth my time?”

Social entrepreneurs on a braindate at the 2019 SOCAP Conference
Group braindate on social entrepreneurship at the 2019 SOCAP Conference

Stay with us as we take you through the Braindate experience. We’re here to answer your questions, to tell you what you might expect from your conversations, and– we don’t say this lightly– how you might use Braindate to transform your entire event experience. 

What’s a Braindate?

Braindate is e180’s flagship product, a peer learning experience that helps members of any community—events, companies, schools, even cities—connect with and learn from one another. 

We built it inspired by the belief that the humans who surround us already have the knowledge that we seek to propel our projects forward. All we’re missing is a way to share this knowledge, to find, in a sea of people, that one person who has answers to our most urgent questions.

Braindate is e180’s flagship product, a peer learning experience that helps members of any community—events, companies, schools, even cities—connect with and learn from one another. 

Two real estate agents on a braindate at NAA Apartmentalize 2019
You meet as strangers, leave as friends. At the 2019 NAA Apartmentalize © Youssef Shoufan

Before and during the event, users post topics related to anything that they’re hoping to share and discuss at a given event to the Braindate platform’s “topic market.” Participants with similar interests and challenges will then book them to discuss their braindate topics. 

In the days leading up to the event, the Braindate platform transforms into a vibrant hub of conversations waiting to happen on topics that truly reflect the varied concerns of an often diverse participant base. 

Braindate platform topic marketplace
What the Braindate topic marketplace looks like

The platform gives users the rare opportunity to discuss whatever is most important to them, which could be anything from a topic related to the theme of the event (How I built a highly engaged community of 4500+ professionals in 1 year with 50$.) or discuss a subject they feel strongly about (I just want to talk to amazing women. Let’s talk life, lessons, spirituality & the universe). 

How can you use Braindate to maximize your event experience?

In traditional networking settings, attendees rely on serendipity and often, a healthy understanding of how to stalk each other on LinkedIn leading up to a cocktail hour in order to prepare themselves for success.

But we believe that communities’ desire for “networking” is in fact rooted in a human need for connection and knowledge-exchange opportunities.

Braindate is not just another event networking app.

It’s a means to personalize your experience at an event, to form a deeper connection with your community, and to gain knowledge above and beyond event programming. All that it requires is that you as the participant believe in the value of your own experiences.

Here are the ways in which you might use Braindate to transform your event experience:

1. Discover what your peers want to talk about

Most events structure their programming around a specific theme. They highlight global trends and offer informative sessions on topics that reflect the state of their industry.

What often gets lost in this programming is dedicated time for participants to address the at times niche concerns that affect their day-to-day life. The Braindate platform offers valuable insight into the subjects your peers would rather spend their time talking about. 

Five educators discuss future of education at WISE Summit 2019
Group braindate in action at the 2019 WISE Summit © Youssef Shoufan

In 2019, we brought Braindate to the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE). We discovered that beyond the already robust-event content being offered at the conference, participants were especially interested in having in-depth conversations on topics relating to policy-making, fundraising, special needs education, etc.

It’s a means to personalize your experience at an event, to form a deeper connection with your community, and to gain knowledge above and beyond event programming. All that it requires is that you as the participant believe in the value of your own experiences.

2. Establish yourself as an expert

You can establish your expertise on a subject by using the Braindate platform to share your knowledge with others around you.

Two women on a braindate at C2 Montreal 2018
One on one braindate at C2 Montreal 2018

At the 2019 C2 Montreal conference, Celine Smith, Head of Events at KPMG Canada, posted this topic: Bringing creativity into corporate events.

She received dozens of invitations for conversation, establishing herself as an expert and a source of knowledge on the subject of corporate events.

3. Troubleshoot a problem you’re facing at work

Conferences and meetings are fantastic opportunities for professionals to dedicate time to learn and acquire new skills. Participating in sessions, workshops, and listening to speakers are a few ways to learn at an event. Except these same sessions and workshops are designed to appeal to the largest number of participants.

The Braindate platform allows you to supplement the knowledge you gained from a session, and take a deep dive into the specific problem you’re facing at work.

Healthcare analysts on a braindate at Healthcare Analytics Summit 2019
Diving deep into event content at the 2019 Healthcare Analytics Summit

We had a chance to speak to Chris Schacherer, the principal consultant at Clinical Data Management Systems at the 2019 Healthcare Analytics Summit. Chris told us that Braindate allowed him to meet “others with similar issues” as him and that “brainstorming ideas and hearing about some of the things they’ve tried and how they succeeded or failed” added greatly to his conference experience.

4. Find a community of like-minded individuals

When you post a braindate topic about something that you’re passionate about, it acts like a homing beacon, attracting others who get excited about the same stuff you do.

In a room full of strangers, it can bring you one step closer to finding your tribe.

Female data analysts on a group braindate at Tableau Conference
#Momswhoviz discover each other at the 2019 Tableau Conference Braindate Lounge

Lindsay Betzendahl a data consultant at Viz Health and a participant at 2019 Tableau Conference, posted a topic on being a mother in the Tableau community: Working Moms in Data Viz Unite! Let’s talk about challenges, strengths, and community!

Reporting on her braindates, Lindsay wrote in her blog  that she was able to connect with other mothers who shared her experiences: “We talked about how we could support other women – other mothers and even fathers. How we could develop a community within this broader one.”

5. Find your next potential business partner

We always say (intentional) networking is just another fabulous side-effect of knowledge-sharing conversations.

C2 stories: How one man became a Braindating champion
From “C2 stories: How one man became a Braindating champion”

Our favorite story comes from Sébastien Lauzière, the Québec Sales Director at Flight Centre Travel Group, who we met at C2 Montreal. Sebastien credited his braindates to helping him ”uncover millions of dollars worth of potential business.”

Sebastien explained, “one key to success here is understanding that decision-makers are always busy, but they take the time to come to C2 and enjoy three days of unhurried exploration. With braindating, it’s easy to connect and make an impression.”

6. Create space for human moments

Let’s be honest, no one can talk about work all the time. Participants welcome the respite that’s offered by the evening cocktail to relax and to potentially connect over subjects other than business.

Even at the most well-organized cocktail hour, serendipity must be in your favour to find real connections. Braindate manufactures serendipity.

Participants have the freedom to post a braindate topic about anything, like a discussion on a book that changed their life or even their anxieties like  being an introvert at a large event.

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These are just some of the ways in which Braindate can help maximize your event experience. We also turned to past-braindaters to ask them how they used the platform, and shared their advice on how to have a fabulous braindate experience

For example, Ewan Jamieson Research & Development at Spark Thinking shares his advice: “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be niche: you don’t have to be an expert to be an expert braindater.” 

Find that article here.

Beyond the event: leaving with a lot more than just business cards

The context of connecting with someone over shared passions  is a powerful one. Mandy Gardner, who is the senior content writer and blogger for Social Capital Markets said it best, “I have learned that meeting to discuss a specific, pre-set topic helps two strangers with mutual interests quickly move past the shallows and into real depth.” 

Mandy, of course was talking about her own braindate experience at the 2019 SOCAP Conference, one of the most influential conferences for global impact investing, where she posted a topic on storytelling, and through that met with a number of people she wouldn’t have connected with otherwise.

Event networking through braindate at SOCAP Conference 2019
Valuable strangers turning into unlikely allies at the 2019 SOCAP Conference

Thousands of braindaters have had an experience similar to Mandy. They have felt the magic of seeing a stranger transform into a potential collaborator, an ally, or even a friend through the course of a 30-45 minute conversation. 

This unique context is designed to foster meaningful connections that have the potential to grow and evolve beyond the duration of the event. 

So, we asked our experience producers, the folks who guide productions from A-Z and are experts on connection and learning, what their tips are on staying in touch after an amazing braindate:

How to stay in touch after networking

What a braindate experience looks like:

Man taking selfie at 2019 WISE Summit

This unique context is designed to foster meaningful connections that have the potential to grow and evolve beyond the duration of the event. 

A conversation can be the start of something great

A braindate can be the beginning of something special. After all, you do so much more than just meet with a stranger. 

When you show up to a gathering or conversation with the openness to learn from others, you connect with another human based on shared passions and challenges. Along the way, the three-day event, the seas of people around you, begin to glow with exciting potential of new learnings, new friendships.

Next time you’re at an event with Braindate, we invite you to sign up, and open the door to the possibility of having a life-changing conversation.