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There is lots of chatter and possibly confusion about which networking events are best - free or paid events. Here are some of the pros and cons of each.
Free events - We refer to events that are free to attend - No membership is required, no ritual chanting etc. (Maybe you have to pay a small amount for food or drink).
At free events, price isn't a barrier to entry - so there is likely to be a much wider range of attendees. And because of this, there is likely to be less "emotional attachment" and a higher turnover of attendees. Reason - people have "little to lose" - They paid nothing and they expect nothing (or little) in return. This is because being free, people will always have something else to do. Free always drops to the bottom of the priority pile - that's human nature.
These events are likely to be open/social networking and the organiser will have little incentive to push the boat out to organise structured events.
I am a firm believer that there is a cost associated with everything and free always costs money because it costs time.
Travel time, time at the event, time speaking to the wrong people etc.
Possibly the best piece of advice for these events - instead of just turning "hoping" to meet someone interesting is to arrange to meet someone at the event. Maybe an online contact you want to speak to.
Let's look now at paid events. One thing I am very clear on is that going to paid events is no guarantee of meeting quality people. The only thing guaranteed about going to paid events is that you will meet people who can afford the entry fee.
That's it. Nothing more. There is no guarantee that they will talk to you, be interested in you etc.
One major difference though is that people will attend more regularly - because they have paid. Again, people are hard wired to think this way.
All this is a long way round to come to a short and simple conclusion - Everything - even free - has a cost and paying to go to events is no guarantee of meeting the right people.
This short article originally appeared on the Networking University blog. The Networking University is brought to you by Sharp End Training.
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