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.