Meet-Ups Polish Up Their Acts

Technology meet-ups are taking on a professional sheen.

The local gatherings of techies, which are often free and open to newcomers, have long been a fertile field for schmoozing and hunting for investment capital. But as the latest technology boom has gathered steam, meet-ups have proliferated and taken on more importance in the industry.

Many meet-ups have left behind their humbler origins as bull sessions around pitchers of beer. For an increasing number of entrepreneurs, they are places to recruit employees, prospect for clients and keep abreast of the latest tech trends and tools. Some of the groups now have thousands of members — and even corporate sponsors.

The number of monthly events on Meetup.com, a service used mostly by techies to plan the confabs, had grown to more than 250,000 in May 2011 from less than 50,000 three years earlier.

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