What makes a good networking event?

Is it the quality of the attendees or the quality of the snacks? Is it time of day or the amount of time allocated to networking? 

I confess that networking events are not my favorite way to pass a few hours in the evening. In fact, I usually need to be dragged to them. But the fact is they seem to be inevitable and they are everywhere. Where I live in Greenville, SC, I think it would be possible to be at a networking event of some kind every single day. 

But does that time spent have value? I'd like to know what everyone thinks on a couple of questions

 

  1. What are the components of a good networking event and, by extension, what things are bad?
  2. Do you go to networking events because you feel you have to or because you feel they really are valuable?
  3. What is your professional goal at these events? And how often do you feel you attainn it.

 

Please add your comments, experiences and ideas for better networking!