Networking in Silicon Valley
There is a stigma that people in Silicon Valley are not like anyone else. From my time living there and then going back a few years later, I learned these tips about the how to formulate a simple networking goal, what questions to ask and how to get ahead of the game! I decided to write this article because I was scratching my own itch. It was something I wished I could find more info.
Questions to ask when you meet an investor:
1) Their favourite question of mine seemed to be: “If you only one day left in San Francisco, what would you recommend?” If you feel pride and joy about your city, it is something that would bring your thought back to happy memories that you would recommend to newcomers.
2) General questions about their work: What is your investment focus, what is your average investment size, etc..
3) What are you hoping to get out of this event?
4) How is your current firm different from the last VC firm you were at? (This is a great question for those who changed firms, which does happen a lot.)
5) Offer them something instead of ask for something.
Tim Ferriss made this great video about how to ask questions. Why would this be a good source? He is from San Francisco himself and he is an elite podcaster. Podcasters are trained in their craft to do one thing — ask good questions. His key insights are:
a. Ask questions that are easy to answer. Instead of “what do you like to read?” change it to “what is the one book you give as a gift most often?”
b. Asking the right questions produces an interesting conversation. (he has a different way of saying it.)
See the full video here:
Formulate Your Networking Goal
Form my last article, “Do networking events contribute to your business goals?” I talked a bit about the importance of investing any time or money towards a networking even only if it helps you reach your business goals.
For any goal to be obtained, it had to be: measurable, timed, and accountable.
When I attended the TechCrunch event in February 2019, I had a goal of meeting X number of startups in investors in my industry. I only had 3 hours at the event. I was accountable to my friend who I will report to the following Sunday.
Even before I went to the TechCrunch event, two friends invited me to the Facebook campus for lunch earlier that day, so I was already in the mindset of achieving my goals. So, if there was any space for extra networking, I would make a new “Facebook” friend. Unfortunately, I did not have enough time at Facebook to make new friends.
How to get ahead of the game
· Add people to your LinkedIn beforehand with the note “Looking forward to meeting you the TechCrunch event tonight — Sydney, Founder of VenturX.” It is simple and short enough to fit in that introduction box LinkedIn gives. The reason for that is to get a small idea of who is attending and what their business is about (and if it relates to yours). Note: you can only do if you have newsletters or an email from the event organizer telling you who is going to be there. I received this list 2 days beforehand. (Estimated Time: 5–7 mins for 20–25 new contacts)
· Add attendees beforehand on twitter. If you are in a B2B business like VenturX, I recommend following their company twitter and check on crunchbase for the founder’s names too. (Estimated Time: 10 mins for 20–25 new contacts)
· When you get a strange request from someone you don’t know, I recommend saying hi and asking how you can bets work together. If I don’t know you and you send me a request, I will ask you that. (You can try and reference this article.)
· Thank new contacts afterwards for any tips or resources new contacts gave you. People always like to hear that their advice was helpful
· If you taking photos for company social media account as well, get there early and take photos. This is especially if your phone is slow. It takes 15+ minutes to find the wifi password, connect to wifi with my slow phone, think of hashtags, find the event hashtag, and think of my own hashtags/text, and take pictures. If you want to tag any sponsors/ people, it would take even longer.
In conclusion, networking events are great for face to face interactions so the person you are dealing with isn’t just another email to type.
VenturX is a web platform that helps entrepreneurs through their journey from idea to launch and beyond. VenturX uses data-driven analytics to score and connect startups and investors at Seed and Series A financing.