For some conference goers, there is nothing more stressful than the idea of networking. Many would rather pull out their smart phones and check their emails than taking the risk of approaching a stranger to introduce themselves or get stuck in the wrong conversation. However, when asked, many people cite networking as their number one reason for coming to conferences, so avoiding networking is not the solution.
Sometimes it just takes something or someone (or both) to facilitate a connection. This is what Christine Renaud, founder and CEO of E-180, the social business that powers C2 Montréal’s braindates, refers to as “engineering serendipity”.
“When good connections are made, there is no better feeling,” Christine explained. “Braindates remove the barriers to networking and help people get to the meaningful conversations right away. We are in the business of connecting human beings for collaborative learning and meaningful conversations.”
One of the biggest reasons why Harvard Business Review and BizBash both remarked on how C2 Montréal stands out as a great networking event is largely due to braindates. Yes, more and more conferences are offering social apps to their participants, but braindates go far beyond an app.
Although it is enabled by innovative technology, the magic happens in person. On site, you’ll even find trained matchmakers to help connect you with the right person. This customized process takes away all of the guesswork on who you’re meeting with, and why.
Here’s how it works:
A few weeks before the conference, attendees get an email with a registration link. Once connected, they are encouraged to list the topics they are passionate about, and the subjects they are interested in learning more about.
“In order to get the best experience, we recommend that people start planning their braindates early,” Pierre Noïnski, Director – Participant Services at C2 Montréal, explained while describing the braindating process. “There is just so much going on during C2; those who wait at the last minute may find that other’s participants’ schedules are already full.”
Participants are encouraged to make their offers as granular as possible in order to make the best connection. Offers have included everything from advice on how to set up an experiential marketing campaign in the Bronx for a retail brand, to how to do a handstand.
“It’s not just about business, either,” Christine says, “Braindating represents the whole being. Everyone has something to offer.” She recalls that one of the most popular offers in previous editions was a student offering up reviews of products from a Millennial’s perspective.
After you’ve entered the topics you’re interested in sharing or learning about, you can browse through the other C2 participants to see who you should be scheduling a braindate with – either one-on-one, or (new this year) as a group.
The three-day C2 Montréal schedule is designed so there are plenty of times to book these meetings, which usually run around 30 minutes, but can go as long as the participants would like.
The next steps are simple: at the specified time, show up at the Braindating Lounge, where you will be greeted by a matchmaker who will introduce you to your braindate. You can remain in the lounge, which has plenty of unique meeting spaces (stationary bikes, for example), or you can take your braindate anywhere else you’d like. In previous years, many who left the lounge to meet up chose the Ferris wheel, or the boats on the Canal for a scenic way to sit down and talk.
C2 Montréal has amazing thought leaders and programming, but it’s also well known for an audience filled with impressive and knowledgeable participants. Braindates give you the chance to find the people you should connect with and break the ice by setting up a time to talk. It’s just one of the many unique ways that C2 strives to create the optimal experience for the audience.