I go to events and conferences because I am genuinely interested in them, I go there to listen to insightful presentations and talk to fellow programmers about interesting things, the motivation is never to "get a job later", that would be sick. The "networking effect" comes much later when you become close enough to naturally tap on them for job opportunities without feeling awkward or anything.
In other words, you don't go for conferences to find job opportunities, that's not the end, but the natural effect of knowing a lot of awesome people with the same interest as you.
Heck, I dare to go one step further to say that the purpose of a full-time job for me is just to meet more awesome programmers.
You can pick a few meetups (or even just one) to focus on, or you can be on the lookout when you meet casual acquaintances (perhaps at other social events).
I wouldn't want to spend all my social time in work hunting mode, but a small regular investment can pay dividends (depending on how happy you are in your current position).
Another reason to do such activities is the opportunity to help others. I love when I am talking to others and find out about a position that isn't a fit for me, but may be great for someone else I know. Hooking up two acquaintances in a possibly mutual beneficial way is low energy (not too much work) and yet high impact (people remember who helped them get a job).
I discovered this can be as easy as clicking"like" on a LinkedIn in post: http://www.mooreds.com/wordpress/archives/2180