Tuesday night is the second Media Leaders event being held in Raleigh. The first one held back in January was great and I expect this one to be just as good. The question for some people is, “is it worth paying for?”
It’s an interesting question, free has taken on a life of its own in the social media age. It’s a question that I and the other organizers wrestle with. In the final analysis it comes down to the question of how much do you value an opportunity to meet and socialize with friends, peers and mentors in your industry and community.
For me, if I want to just hang out with my peers at a tweetup, that’s always available to me for free. I have very low expectations of such an event to actually make an impact on my life. It’s just fun to see all my friends.
If I want to see my business peers and maybe take it up a notch, then I would try to see who else in my industry is attending Chuck Hester‘s LinkedIn Live event. I know Chuck spends a lot of time getting those ready and offsets the cost by having companies sponsor the event.
We think of Media Leaders as a slightly different concept. We aim to make the event equally useful for C-level executives and entry-level evangelists. There’s not a lot of interruptions or music or food, it’s aimed at letting people connect.
There’s not a lot of places where someone just starting out can bump into a true leaders like Media Two‘s CEO Michael Hubbard , Brooks Bell Interactive‘s Founder and President Brooks Bell or ShareFile‘s CEO Jesse Lipson. Not only can you talk to them, you have a pretty good chance of winning the drawing, which is a lunch with them where you can pick their brains! Spending an hour with such smart and successful people could actually change your life. Maybe they give you a new idea, or tell you the crazy idea you have is brilliant (or terrible), and maybe there’s some real synergy and they want to work with you on something. It’s the opportunity to make the connection that’s important.
But what if you don’t win the free lunch? Everyone attending the first event seemed to be in the perfect mood. Because it was a straight-up networking event, everyone chatted and met a lot of new people. Use the event to meet a competitor, talk to someone who is hiring or a company you’ve always wanted to ally with.
I’ve been cutting back on time I’m spending attending social events to only include the ones I feel have real value for me. This is one that meets that criteria. If you’re attending just to hang out in the corner with your close friends, you’re missing the true value of the event.
The Raleigh Media Leaders event is on April 6th at Issac Hunter’s Oak City Tavern on Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh. You can still get tickets for the event.
Photo from: Brian McDonald
Morgan Siem says
Great post, Phil. I’m interested to hear everyone’s feedback on this because, you’re right, we do struggle with the question of cost. What makes this event worth paying the entry fee? I may be biased, but this event was one of the most valuable I’ve attended (and I attend a heck of a lot of events). I enjoy the many free events around town because I get to catch up with familiar faces and learn a few new things. Raleigh Media Leaders was different in that I met so many of the “non-regulars.” I met a great number of people who are doing amazing work, and whom I look up to in the industry, but whom I’d never had the opportunity to meet IRL. Valuable experience for me? Without a doubt. Very, very much looking forward to the next Raleigh Media Leaders event on Tuesday night. See you there!
Phil Buckley says
Great point Morgan. There is a lot of people that show up that I just don’t see at other events.
Janet M. Kennedy says
As long as unemployment is as high as it is, especially for people in our field, I would hesitate to charge unless you need funds to off-set the cost of the event. Is someone paying out of pocket for the event? Can sponsorships cover it if we are bringing C-level executives? If we paid – who gets the money? I like transparency in fee structures.
That said, tie a charitable angle to the event and I would be more than willing to donate. It combines good networking with giving a non-profit a passive (or active) audience that could really have an impact for them. As a non-profit I would much rather get $5 an attendee from a bunch of marketing, design and media people than construction workers (unless I was a rep for Habitat for Humanity!). The potential for additional exposure via Twitter, blogs and possible pro-bono connections would be great.
Phil Buckley says
@Janet – I can see both sides to the argument. Personally I don’t mind paying for things if I see the value. There’s a reason I spend money on some iPhone apps – because I think it’s worth it. If that money goes to charity it may make me feel better, but the value proposition remains the same, is it worth what I’m being asked to pay.
Janet M. Kennedy says
So if I don’t get “value” will your refund my money? 😉
I am curious. Is “Media Leaders” established as a non-profit, a trade organization or an online/live collective of like minded people? Do they charge for events in other cities?
Michael Hubbard says
So I enjoy talking to people in the industry, but I am the kind of guy who hates to approach people in fear of being labeled “salesy”. How is this event different? Can someone who’s shy gain anything from this, or is it best suited for sales people? If people are paying to go, I’d love to hear some tips as to why this format is better and any useful pointers beforehand would be great. Looking forward to it – thanks Phil!
Mandy Steinhardt says
I had a disadvange at the last event due to being pretty pregnant, unable to drink, and being a somewhat shy person. So take those caveats, but I didn’t meet a whole lot of people. The ones I did meet were very junior at their companies or consultants, mostly. I don’t feel that I made too many helpful connections although there was an exception or two. But that’s my problem with most of these forced meet-and-greet type events, it’s generally a handshake and a “hello” and you don’t get into great conversations with people.
@Janet – Phil was nice enough to let me in for free in exchange for some volunteering at the door. I was wierded out by paying $12 for the ability to show up somewhere, probably the foodie in me demanded at least an app for that admission fee! I think my next networking event will be a tweet-up, I still haven’t tried out one of those yet!
Phil Buckley says
@Janet – I would give you the same refund that a school offers a student who doesn’t feel like they got any value of of their time spent at school. I’m sure your parents told you the same thing my parents told me. You get out of it what you put into it.
@Michael – I understand that it’s a very fine line between, “helpful” and “salesy”. If I need help with my interactive campaign, you’re helpful – if I don’t, you’re salesy. I’m not sure that changes at any event. Anyone going can see the list of everyone else who is attending, so everyone can easily make the decision if it’s worth their time.
@Mandy – If I can take away 1 or 2 helpful connections from an event, I consider it a success.
Nathania Johnson says
I don’t mind paying. It really isn’t that expensive. Free events are everywhere, constantly going on and anyone can go to them. I’m looking forward to seeing if this is a little different. If not, I’m not out that much money.
I also don’t think you have to give money to charity. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very much about giving back, serving others, etc. But if too much focus is given on the charity angle, it can draw an unintended audience – basically people who are there just to donate and not there for the ultimate purpose of the event.
People who want to be there will pay. If someone is out of work, that’s unfortunate (I’ve been there), but again, there are plenty of free events.
Karl Sakas says
Yes, it’s worth it. I think the bigger question is about the value of the time, not money.
Considering how many area lunch-and-learn events cost $30 or $40, paying $12 for Media Leaders isn’t much. But everyone’s busy — is it worth spending a couple hours meeting people?
After going to the first, I’d say Media Leaders is worth the time and the money. I found people were friendly and glad to chat. Bring lozenges, to avoid losing your voice…everyone talking gets pretty noisy.
Brian McDonald says
Great points about the cost and expectations. The real challenge with events is that it’s free you end up with may no-shows since there’s no investment. Also perception can be that it’s not worth time, energy, etc. if there is no up-front monetary value attached to it.
Another great point about Media Leaders is that there’s no sales pitch to join an association, etc. Many socials for trade groups are recruiting tools.
See everyone on Tuesday!
Ashley Berman Hale says
I’m so sorry I missed this event. My winter hibernation is breaking though and I’ll be sure and get to the next one!
As far as free – you know I’m a big fan! That said, if you’re creating value and it takes something (time, effort, talent, etc) then I think you have a right to get something from it. Maybe it is the sheer pleasure of bringing folks together, a few good references or a couple bucks to line your pockets – who knows.
I also like the idea of building something up with a free model – and a paid model with increased value only to folks that find it worth paying for. Just a’rambling (that’s what I do best). Congrats on putting together such an awesome and well-attended event!
Bobby McDonald says
I really enjoyed the last media leaders, and brought some of my work buddies along for the ride. Cost is always a consideration for networking events. A free event always sounds better but, as mentioned above, free has its own problems.
There’s really two questions here. Free or paid? And then if paid, how much are we going to charge? The price point can dictate the feel of the event and the audience. For events like Media Leaders, I feel like paying a little something is OK. The networking opportunities, in a laid back and sales-free environment is worth my $12.