First - let me say what I consider to be a good audience - interesting people. For me, these are folks who are actively involved in wide variety of technology-enabled businesses. They are tied to and influence the strategy/direction of the business. They are smart and like to talk about what's going on.
Unfortunately, a lot of networking events attract more service providers and people out of work than interesting people. And, yes, I realize that I'm a service provider, but I also am a CTO for several companies. And there are definitely other service providers who provide things like marketing services who are interesting, so it's not all service providers, it's more like the wealth management types. You know what I mean.
Having produced a variety of events over the years and having been on the boards of both the Technology Council and AITP, I can say that it's really hard to attract a critical mass of interesting people. In fact, after several years of trying, I've instead started relying on my CTO Forum group and private events (like an upcoming wine tasting).
Why does this hurt, well I was just reading a few blog posts yesterday on finding startup co-founders:
- Where do you Find Cofounders?
- Startup Co-Founders: If You Can't Recruit 'Em, Should You Join 'Em?
- Finding Startup Co-Founders
You would hope that networking events would be a good way to find suitable folks. Again, in LA, they are a bit few and far between (literally in geographical terms).
The one thing that is making me more hopeful about events is that I'm starting to see more pre-event lists of people who will be attending. This allows me to get a sense of who's coming and also to figure out who I'll try to meet at the event. Certainly a recent event that had lots of service providers in attendence was a whole lot better because I had a few people that I wanted to discuss particular topics at the event.