Since my first and awkward encounter with technology and the internet, I’ve always wanted to know what Silicon Valley is all about. My perception has always been that its this mall like place where you have all the technology and web brand names and you can just go in and explore what innovations these companies are up to. I’ve been following popular technology websites and blogs such as Techcrunch, mashable, our own memeburn and others but actually spending time in the Valley brought a different perspective to this incredible place.
Although only being here for 20 days and with only one confirmed meeting I was not sure what I’ll be doing to keep me busy during that time but I soon realised that the entire valley is distributed in nature and very much connected. After attending a few technology events around the Bay area I learned so much and especially seeing the pace of how people work in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Every day there are a number of events you can attend related to technology, web, mobile and many other areas so finding something to do was not a problem.
However I was still an Alien in the Valley and not sure what to expect but below are my personal 5 tips for anyone visiting and especially if you do not have any local hosts while being there:
1) When I arrived in San Francisco, I used the first 2 days to get to know the place and locations. I oriented myself with the surroundings and travelled on the public transport systems.
2) While busy with orientation go online (eventbrite.com, meetup.com etc.) to find events that will be useful to you or for you to network at. You are guaranteed to find something to do at least once a day.
3) Attending these events make sure you network as much as you possibly can and try and I identify beforehand the people you would like to connect with. You will quickly see how connected people are and they are always willing to support or advise you around the Valley culture.
4) I soon realised that the biggest commodity in Silicon Valley is people and their time. Whenever you have a chance to meet with someone who is giving of their time, make sure you know exactly what you want out of the meeting and what you can provide the person you meeting. My meetings became more fruitful the more time I spent refining what I wanted to speak about and generated more leads. Always helpful to be polite and respect the time people give you and my initial tour of the place was helpful whenever I had to find a location that I’ve not been to before.
5) Keeping track of your connections while over there are important and whenever you able to add value to the person you’re meeting’s network share that with them as you’ll be amazed how great that return would be.
So in the end my journey was not about the glamour or the BIG names in the technology space, but realized Silicon Valley is about the people. While I’ve been here for more than 2 weeks now my journey brought me to meet great people from amazing organisations. I can truly say that I don’t feel like an Alien anymore but have made great connections, friends and partnerships which I’ll share over the next few posts. Without a doubt for any technology, web or entrepreneur enthusiast, you should make Silicon Valley one of the places to visit because the experience in itself is priceless.