What is the number one thing you hope to get out of a professional conference that you attend? I think for many people the answer is either making a connection – expanding their network to meet someone who can help them in the future – or gaining a new idea that will move them forward either personally or professionally.

The American Society for Association Executives (ASAE) accomplishes both at their Great Ideas conference through a Braindates component. Braindates are pre-scheduled, one-on-one meetings with fellow participants. Through an app, attendees can pre-schedule conference time to meet with others on key topics either to offer insights or to gain them.

I think Braindates should be a standard feature at all professional conferences. It avoids having participants rely on a happenstance meeting and spares people the awkward process of trying to find someone who may be a good connection. It also makes it easier for those willing to share expertise to have an informal forum to do so.

Think about how you could add a Braindate to your next event, or even provide a process for them to occur in your organization. Everyone wins when you foster connections and cultivate ideas.



I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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