As someone that enjoys the occasional alcoholic beverage, I think it goes beyond starts up and is more ingrained in the Networking phenomenon. I recently joined a startup and completed an MBA. I feel lucky that the environment I’m in with my company is more accepting of each employee’s life decisions that falling into the industry culture. Sure we talk about our alcohol preferences and have team meals but no one is expected or shamed into the consumption of something they’re not interested in, whether that be alcohol, meat, dessert, etc..
Whereas I see a different pattern from my grad school. Every event since before applying has been marketed with reminding the reader that alcohol will be provided. The events organized by school clubs all mention alcohol and 8 or 9 times take place at a bar, pub, or restaurant.
Even the various meetup groups, tech events and more casual networking gatherings all center around drawing people to the event with alcohol. Why can’t the main draw be the main focus of the event? Yes getting a free glass of wine or beer can be a nice plus but I’m more interested in talking to my peers, learning from experts, seeing a demo and there have been more than a couple times where I’ve left an event early because the “networking” over drinks took up 60% if not more of the total event time. I even paid for the opportunity to attend some of those events.
Until we’re able to feel confident that people will seek out and attend events without the promise of free booze I don’t think the frequency or association of “yay! alcohol” will decrease anytime soon.