Sep 10

I’M OFFICIALLY BANNING ALL TECH HAPPY HOURS

Yes, this is correct. I am never going to another tech happy hour in Austin again. I don’t care if Michael Arrington shows up. I don’t care if Obama shows up. I don’t care. I am a former athlete and I don’t like drinking that much, and there is a lot better use of my time.

I look at the 2.0 community, and I see a lot of people who think they have very progressive ideas about “community”. It seems like people really like patting themselves on the back for it. When I go to happy hours, I see a lot of people buying enough booze to get comfortable but not too much as to embarrass themselves, just trying to network. There is nothing wrong with networking, but there are ways to network that actually accomplish goals, i.e. actually “being” progressive. Last night, I learned a lot about Google Chrome at the Refresh Austin meeting. We had drinks, but the meeting centered on learning how it would change the scope of the internet. Lynn Bender’s last GeekAustin meeting brought together people for a very useful open source project called OpenSims. Mando Escamilla and Whurley presented. The Blood Drive Tweetup I organized with David Neff and attended by the coolest Tweeps ever helped save dozens of lives. For the Hamup Tweetup, Mike Chapman brought Tyson’s Foods in the equation, who donated 35,000 POUNDS OF FOOD TO LOCAL AUSTINITES IN NEED (and a resounding “w00t” for both of them :D). Come on Saturday to volunteer or bring food. I guarantee that you will indeed network with other people.

Work hard for your clients or company. Volunteer for an open source project. Educate people (and notice, I say EDUCATE instead of SELF PROMOTE) at a Refresh Austin, GeekAustin, or Austin Social Media Club event. Give your time to the community in need. All of these will earn you more respect in your field than chugging away drinks and talking away at a happy hour. After all, you can get a conversation started, or you can take all of the conversations people are already having, screaming, wanting to be fixed, and actually do something about them.

  • http://amzuri.wordpress.com Alexander M Zoltai

    Bravo !

    I’m in the throes of weening myself off many of the “social” networking efforts I was making because, even without non-virtual contact, people seemed to be acting like loud-mouthed drunks at a “2.0” party…

    ~ Alex from Our Evolution

    Alexander M Zoltais last blog post..Global Unity

  • http://michellesblog.net Michelle

    Alex, I’m sorry you’ve felt that way. My advice to you is to look a little deeper in the community who are like-minded, as well as be the one to create the change that you are seeking. I’m sure you will find what you are looking for ;-).

  • http://amzuri.wordpress.com Alexander M Zoltai

    Michelle,

    Thanks for your concern. I guess I wasn’t clear enough about what I’m going through.

    The weening is from sites that are far from actually social–they draw people in with the 2.0-banner then sucker as many as possible into their particular money-making scheme.

    I’m still pursuing interaction on a number of valid social-networking sites; it’s just the loud-mouthed, drunken snake-oil salespeople I’m avoiding…

    ~ Alex from Our Evolution

    Alexander M Zoltais last blog post..Global Unity

  • http://enkerli.wordpress.com Alexandre Enkerli

    How about coffee hours?

  • http://michellesblog.net Michelle

    I’d do a coffee hour, but only if it were centered around an issue/cause. Coffee meetups usually are though. I’ve never gone to a “Tech Coffee Hour”.

  • http://enkerli.wordpress.com Alexandre Enkerli

    IIRC, @RoundSparrow and @DustyReagan mentioned things about tech coffee hours. Or maybe I’m just extrapolating from conversations about Jelly.
    Here in Montreal, there has been discussion about transferring some tech events from “happy hour” to parents-appropriate events like picnics and such. These work well too. And they’re not at all like the “meet market” events I’ve observed during SXSWi. My guess is that some daytime events in public spaces could work rather well in Austin.

  • http://austin360.com/digitalsavant Omar G.

    Does this have anything to do with there being a high tech happy hour tonight at the same time as the HAM-up Grill Up? Because that’s what it feels like.

    Omar G.s last blog post..Apple, briefly

  • http://stalelife.com joeyTWOwheels

    Good for you for saying what you feel. I think most people need to feel lubed to break the ice, hence the booze part.

    That and we all have clients, and they can really make you want to drink. But a long bike ride works, too.

  • http://michellesblog.net Michelle

    @omarg That’s part of it. I’m sick of too many events. Primarily, I just don’t think 2.0 should encourage a habit that should be done sparingly. Why can’t we volunteer? Why can’t we go on a bike ride? Why not go somewhere with your family? People networked way before 2.0, and it always wasn’t at happy hours. There have always been organizations centered around certain professions, social good, and hobbies.

    Omar, you have to admit, there are a lot of happy hours in this town. Now, if you organized a happy hour with a Wii Tennis Tournament, I’d be there with bells on…

  • http://michellesblog.net Michelle

    @alexandre The family issue has always worried me as well. 2.0 events shouldn’t come at the expense of your family.

  • http://amzuri.wordpress.com Alexander M Zoltai

    These comments are starting to show the social-interactive nature of a blog.

    The stream of ideas recalled an old (and two-edged) saying:

    “Marketing is as old as the crossroad.”

    ~ Alex from Our Evolution

    Alexander M Zoltais last blog post..Global Unity

  • http://www.grumpicus.com Erik

    How about a Rock Band 2 happy hour? πŸ˜‰

    Eriks last blog post..New heights of stupidity

  • http://michellesblog.net Michelle

    I suck at RockBand. For the sake of support though, maybe I’d be a RockBand groupie. Wow. That is sad.

  • http://enkerli.wordpress.com Alexandre Enkerli

    @Alex Agreed! Especially if we allow ourselves to broaden the “topic.” Some peeps hate that but I assume Michelle doesn’t mind.

    And at the risk on going on too much of a tangent… Part of the effect of those events is that it “selects for” a certain kind of people which, in turn, makes for a relative insularity of the crowd in question. Among things which could change for many of these things to go really mainstream (social media, “Web 2.0,” social marketing…), it might be a good idea to expand from the “geek niche” into broad society. At the risk of sounding stereotypical, there are “demographics” which are nearly absent from these spheres and one reason is that events are mostly welcoming for a certain type of people. I have a very clear picture in mind but I’m afraid it might be misconstrued. A specific GaryVee party in Austin during SXSWi was the ideal case for this.

    Alexandre Enkerlis last blog post..Apologies and Social Media: A Follow-Up on PRI’s WTP

  • http://www.grumpicus.com Erik

    What about a Rock Band band groupie? http://www.lambhammer.com/ πŸ˜€

  • http://www.adomatica.com Robert “Adomatica” Gilbreath

    Michelle-

    Would you show up if Michael Arrington AND Obama showed up?

    I’ve personally been to tons of events where there was and was not drinking and, frankly, you get out of them what you put into them…drunk or not.

    I don’t agree that there are too many of these events. Let them happen and the useful ones will stick around while the ones only claiming to be progressive will disappear as people realize they are crap.

    The only part I hate about the number of events is that I can’t make it to all of them, so I can never be sure I am making it to the best ones.

    Robert “Adomatica” Gilbreaths last blog post..Who’s Watching Who #53

  • http://michellesblog.net Michelle

    Robert,

    Do we HAVE to network at a bar? Can we network in any other context? Other than these events, I hardly ever go to happy hour.

    I do not dismiss the network aspects of it. I just feel there are other ways of doing this. I would suggest attending an Austin Social Media Club or Refresh Austin meeting so you can see what I am talking about. People drink a little, they certainly pass around business cards, but there is a goal to learn new skills.

  • http://door64.com Matt Genovese

    Well, I can only speak for the door64 happy hours. The purpose for my events is to help tech folks meet their industry peers. Most engineers I know don’t do a good job of networking outside of their peer group at their company. So the goal is to meet their peers and expand their professionals circle.

    It’s hard to do this when biking, and frankly I think people just coming off a day’s work are not apt to meet somewhere else other than a relaxed atmosphere to socialize. Hell, getting engineers to socialize can be a feat in itself sometimes (which is why I keep events free: low barrier to entry). Weekends are for families, so that leaves weeknights. With a goal of provoking meaningful conversation to create professional relationships, that does limit what else can be done simultaneously.

    I will say that like yours and others, my time is valuable since I have many projects I work on. So I’m not bouncing between happy hours throughout each week. On average I hit one every few weeks (if that). And I’m careful to choose where I go. Chatting for the sake of chatting isn’t my cup of tea. This is the reason I keep door64 events focused on high-tech: people (like me) should find value in the networking, and not just chuck the business cards afterwards.

    While not trying to pat myself on the back or self-promote, I think this experiment has worked, at least for door64. That said, I do want to hold other types of events that stretch beyond pure networking into continuing education. We’ll see how that pans out.

    Matt Genoveses last blog post..Electronics Design & Manufacturing Symposium & Vendor Show – Attendee Survey

  • http://michellesblog.net Michelle

    Matt,

    This is not an attack on Door64. I know your intentions are very good. I just feel very pressed for personal time and am now not really seeing much benefit from them. This was more or less a post about my personal position rather than a judgment of happy hours.

  • http://door64.com Matt Genovese

    Michelle,

    Understood. I was just writing from an organizer / advocate standpoint. And I know where you’re coming from too.

    To me, networking events in general are about return on investment. That is, we’re investing our time. If we don’t establish meaningful relationships during that time, then what’s the point? I can have a drink anywhere.

    Matt Genoveses last blog post..Electronics Design & Manufacturing Symposium & Vendor Show – Attendee Survey