Networking tips – Get the most out of San Francisco and the Bay Area
So, you dream of staying in Bay Area after your graduation and working in some of worlds most innovative companies? Or even start your own company? Then, you should definitely use these 11 months of studying to meet as many people as possible, and form network of contacts who could help you achieve this goal. Network of contacts is everything in the Bay Area, and there is no place on Earth where that saying – you are NET worth as your network – makes more sense. This article is product of my two-week research, and is here to help you get the most out of this opportunity.
1. Polish your LinkedIn profile
All recent technology revolutions were started in 50 mile radius of San Francisco. People here love technology and tend to use it as much as they can in order to make their lives more efficient and easier. It is no different with LinkedIn, popular social network for business people. Difference in LinkedIn usage back in Serbia (where I come from) and here lie in the fact that here, this is not just another “approve-friends” social network but valuable tool for you to get introduced to future business partners. Thanks to its structure, it precisely shows how are you connected with other people, and thanks to that you can easily get qualified recommendation for your future job. So, polish up your profile, update all necessary information and feel free to add your profile URL on business cards. It won’t definitely hurt.
The easiest way to meet new people are meetups. Luckily this is the best place for people who like this type of networking. There are dozens of meetups everyday in Bay Area and most of them are listed on Meetup.com. Reason why I prefer this type of networking is their optimal size. Conferences are often to big to meet new people, and sometimes (and this happened to me more than once) it is almost impossible to meet and talk to anyone. On the other side, meetups rarely have more than 100 people, and coffee and beer are often better networking tool than most of those available on the market So, register there, explore meetups that cover your area of interest and, of course, don’t forget the business cards.
Some interesting meetup groups for tech and marketing people
- San Francisco American Marketing Association (SFAMA)
- Internet Entrepreneurs, Info Marketers & Affiliates Meetup
- Startup Waffles / A MUST!!!
- Silicon Valley Startup: Idea to IPO / lots of free webinars
Third group I’ve mentioned above – Startup Waffles is organized by StartupDigest.com. So far, I’ve found their mailing adress as the most comprehensive guide to startup related events, primarily in the Bay Area but in other parts of the world as well. Additional plus are discounts for most of the conferences mentioned in a their weekly newsletter. If you are not following their mailing list, it’s about time to change that for the better.
If you are too shy for crowded networking events than LetsLunch is a solution for your problem. Every day LetsLunch connects you with other business people, based on area that you marked as desirable. And if you mark it as big enough, you can even meet Facebook recruiter. Fun and really useful service.
5. Co-working spaces
RocketSpace and HackerDojo are well-known co-working spaces in this area, that are frequently organizing different events where you could meet other people and companies. RocketSpace even employes some of Hult Alumnus, and I believe you will be more than welcome there. If Steve Ballmer could, why wouldn’t you?
+ One last advice
Probably the best advice I have got when I came here was to have positive attitude and be eager to talk to everyone you meet. The reason why Bay Area is so successful is huge amount of amazingly smart people gathered in this small area and changed the world we live in. Still, many of these are eating burgers in a same place you do, live in the same building or maybe have the same hair dresser. Thanks to easy-going Californian culture, you will never know that, until you exchange a few words with them, so don’t hesitate - go out, experience this city as it deserves, talk to everyone you meet, don’t be too pushy and an opportunity will definitely occur.