So you are new in Silicon Valley, a foreigner fresh off the boat with a big dream to build your own tech startup. Got your place via AirBnB or Craigslist. Now what? Where do all the cool startup dudes hang out and how do I get in touch with them? Well fortunately enough there are a lot of events going on that you can attend for (almost) free. A lot of activity is going on in San Francisco nowadays, same in Mountain View or Palo Alto. If you haven’t picked your place to live yet I would recommend San Francisco btw.
Here is how to find out about the good events:
- Subscribe to StartupDigest newsletter. These guys rock, they will send you a list of all great events with sometimes discount codes
- Subscribe to WebWallFlower. Not the same league as StartupDigest, but still useful
- Create an account with Plancast and follow the active dudes like me. Plancast imports event from Meetup, Eventbrite and Facebook events, links them to your FB or Twitter friends or the persons you subscribe to on Plancast. Excellent service
- Check out Meetup.com, and sign up for interesting groups
- Look at Eventbrite.com, and make sure you integrate your Facebook account to get recommendations
There are a few recurring events that are always good to attend:
- SF NewTech SF’s oldest and biggest tech event
- Hackers and Founders. Great monthly events with lot’s of actual hackers instead of just dreamers with ideas:)
- SF Beta – great location and food
So how to meet people? Well fortunately Americans are very approachable. Just walk up to them, introduce yourself and ask “What do you do?”. Nine out of ten times you will have a good conversation. Listen to what they do, try to relate to them and tell them something about yourself that is interesting for them. Have your business cards always with you and ask theirs. A LinkedIn request is more than normal to send the next day. As easy as it is to start a conversation, the same goes for ending. A 5 or 10 minute conversation is pretty long already, on a given night someone might speak to 10-15 people. So expect to be asked for your business card or be told they see someone they really have to talk to someone as a signal it is time to move on.
Some other tips to meet people: work from bars like Coffee Bar. It is not exceptional for these places that you buy a coffee and a muffin and work half a day or more there. These working bars have good wifi, a reasonable amount of power outlets and let you stay around for a long time. See this Quora thread for more coffee shops to work from.
Also subscribe to Let’s Lunch. Let’s lunch will hook you up with someone that is from the same field like you are, depending on your LinkedIn profile. I got my desk office with Ark.com by meeting the CEO on a LetsLunch lunch.
Last tip, research the cool companies out there, follow their founders on Twitter and see where they hang out. Mission district is packed with bars like Zeitgeist where you might actually run into one.
Ah or take a Silicon Valley tour, Steve Blank approved.
Ps. A big thank you for my Dutch friend Ronald Mannak for introducing me to Silicon Valley.