Lessons on paid meetups
I realized that in the last couple of years there are more and more interest groups being formed be it on LinkedIn, Meetup and other social media. I think that’s really great and it’s a fantastic way to meet likeminded people, exchange ideas and get leads for potential new hires, etc. But I also realize that more and more groups are being used to generate business for the moderator. I understand that if people put all their time and effort into creating something uniquely useful for their members, they should be compensated. But often it seems that moderators create events with only one purpose – to make money.
I go relatively often to group meetings and have been participating in a few paid events in the last couple of months. Unfortunately, I had to realize that many of the paid events have been really bad. The focus was often to squeeze as many people as possible into a tight space, luring them with promises like meeting Angel investors or press people, which turned out to be only partially true. I just think it’s wrong to organize a meeting using your member base, hold it in a sponsored room and charge everybody $75 - $130 with false promises to meet people that end up not even showing up at the event.
I guess that I’m probably a bit upset today, because I just went to one of those “paid” meetings, sat in a train for 2 hours, spent $75 to participate and got absolutely nothing out of it. The moderator pitched to us a “Meet the Press” meeting urging us to quickly buy the tickets because they would go fast. When I bought my ticket, there was only 1 ticket left. When my cofounder bought his, there was also only one ticket left. And checking 2 weeks later, there was – guess what, only one left – very bizarre. Maybe it was just a way to generate scarcity and accelerate the purchasing process. When I arrived at the meeting, it turned out that there were only two reporters and while one worked for WSJ covering finance for public companies, the other one did not work for NBC as advertised but was a guest reporter covering mostly live stories. We were a group of small business owners and startups – obviously not the right audience. The crowd got so bored that they started exchanging business cards and eating cookies in the middle of the meeting.
I guess for my part, I’m mostly done with these “moderator” events. I have yet to go to one that is worth my time and money.