What Price Networking?

How much would you pay to participate in a social network and what would you expect for that?

On the web, I’m used to some social networks being available for free. Usefulness and size varies massively, but there’s quite a choice of them. There’s a price to access them (computer, internet access, time) but once you’ve paid that, there are free-to-use networks.

Offline, a lot of networking opportunities cost money and not just access costs (travel, time). Especially business networks. OK, there are paid business networks online too, but some of the biggest ones have some long-term free access level, to try to entice people to upgrade. Offline, it seems like the reverse: there are some free networks and some that have short-term free access, but the norm seems to be pay-to-play. Often you get nothing except entry for the basic subscription, but at least our co-op usually prefers networks where we’re proper members with some say in how things are run.

Not that democracy always works. One networking organisations made a mistake in posting out ballot papers that means we can’t vote in its leadership election. This isn’t the first administrative problem we’ve suffered and their last decent event was at least a year ago, too. At what point should we quit? I think I’ll try to address this through the membership democracy first.

In this recession, some of our offline networks are reviewing their prices. In one case, a network which was free is going to become one of our more expensive annual subscriptions if we renew. If I look at it as a simple “does this bring in enough work to pay for itself?” decision then probably it won’t. How much value do you attach to being there and to being visible, though?

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