It seems like there is a widespread malaise in the country these days. Everyone's clamoring to cut taxes -but no one wants to have their neighborhood school closed, or fear bridges collapsing underneath them, or damage their automobiles while driving over deteriorating streets and roads. They expect Fire and Police personnel to magically appear when needed. The list can go on and on. Folks want and expect so many things to be available, yet they don't want to pay for them. They don't care if someone else has to pay more, they just want to pay less.
In the computer technology field, there is an excellent array of 'free' professional activities. User Groups, Code Camps, and SQLSaturdays are just a few opportunities often provided where you can pick up information about upcoming technology changes, gather a few tips and tricks, network with others, and even find a job. These events are made possible with the generosity AND self-interest of Vendors –companies that want the opportunity to put their message in front of the audience. In exchange for their money, these Vendor/Sponsors get exposure for their products and company message. Their logos may be on signs, they provide printed material, they offer raffle items, and they even send their personnel to be on hand to talk with attendees. They are trying to be noticed. They are trying to have the opportunity to put their product or message before a receptive audience for consideration.
To me, it seems like such a simple bargain. I go to the event and consume whatever learning / skill / networking opportunities that fit my interests. I have rarely left an event thinking that it was a waste of time -I always gain from being there. In exchange, I listen to a few sales pitches, see a few new products, pick up some literature, and even expect to receive an email or two. It's not too burdensome. If the vendor's products and my needs are out of sync, then I ask to be removed from their mail lists. I get a great free opportunity, and the vendor gets the opportunity to show me their product.
In my experience, Vendors that sponsor technology events are reputable and ethical. If, upon receiving their after-event email, I ask to be removed from their mail list, they readily do so. And on occasion I have actually discovered that I really do wish to continue contact with a particular vendor.
As a 'free' event organizer, I am personally dismayed about how many folks, when registering for the event, automatically 'opt out' from receiving after-event email contact from the event sponsors. It seems like they just can't be bothered to receive an email from a Sponsor, and then, after receiving that after-event email, make an educated decision about remaining in contact with the sponsor.
That just seems so wrong!
Life is about balance. Everything has a cost. It's not sustainable to always expect and never be willing to pay. If you are going to accept the opportunity to improve your knowledge, skills, and professional network (and I truly hope that you are) -be willing to play the game and pay the Piper. It's not only fair, but it will help ensure that in the future, similar opportunities are available for you. If everyone opts out, one day the sponsors will all opt out too. Then we all lose.
Support FREE events, give yourself and Sponsors a chance.
Am I wrong here? What are your thoughts?
(Originally published at http://1568.com/arnie)