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Break Free of Breakout Rooms

Stefan Hostetter

Stefan Hostetter

Spadina Community Manager

Entering break out room in: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

Panic!

This has been my experience again and again. Despite being an extraordinarily extroverted individual, there’s something about being told that you will spend the next 20 minutes with a random selection of strangers that triggers my anxiety.

Most online spaces aren’t designed for serendipity. They’re strictly regulated: every meeting is prescribed with purpose and a set list of attendees. This is great when you need to hit a deadline, but terrible when you’re looking to truly connect with people. It’s even harder when you’re trying to meet that one person you need to talk to when you’re faced with the Hollywood-squares-on-steroids of a Zoom call. The question of how to design a networking event to ensure you meet not just the most people possible, but the right people, is something that CSI has been working on for years.

Those who’ve joined us for our in-person events will remember “What I Need” and “What I Have to Offer” stickers, Sustainable Development Goal coloured wristbands, and even a social capital marketplace. Over the 16 years we’ve spent gathering folks in space we’ve honed our skills at breaking through the awkwardness of early interactions and providing space to return to the people you need to have a longer discussion with.

With that in mind, here’s the big reveal: CSI is taking everything we’ve learned from our in person events, combining that with our learnings from our Holiday Gathering and Virtual Coworking Office and launching 8(bit) Degrees.

Alright, I hear you: You just derided online networking events! How is this one any different?

8(bit) Degrees is a virtual networking event series that gives you the ability to talk to just that one person in a room of a hundred, lets you walk into and out of conversations as you like, and connects you to people while freeing you to experience it how you want to. It’s hosted on our favourite platform: Gather.town.

We want to make these events the best they can be, and we know the key to creating a valuable networking experience is not wrapped up in the perfect mix of facilitation and open time. Instead, it all comes down to one thing: clarity.

Pixel illustration of person with dark skin, brown buzz cut, black jacket over green shirt, and blue pants.

How do you know who you should talk to?

Pixel illustration of blond person with thick black-framed glasses in blue clothes.

How do you make the most of your conversations?

It’s part of our responsibility as hosts to help you answer question one. The second question is yours to answer, but we have a few helpful tips:

Know why you’re attending

There are hundreds of valid reasons to attend a networking event – being clear on yours will go a long way. It can be as specific as “finding a graphic designer for an upcoming project”, or as general as “meeting new folks in your sector”. The key is deciding beforehand and acting accordingly.

Have fun with it

While not everyone you meet will be the person you thought you needed, you might be exactly who they’re looking for. The great thing about these events is that they open spaces for serendipity. The power of community grows with each new addition, so don’t close yourself off from expanding your understanding of who you’d like to chat with.

Follow up

Time and time again we hear that folks make a bunch of interesting and valuable connections only to have them fade after the event. So for those you wish to stay in contact with, be sure to follow up in some way. Hint: If you are both CSI Members, The Common Platform is a great way to do this!

Our first 8(bit) Degrees will be February 25th from 4pm-6pm. Space is limited, so get your tickets today!

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