One of the biggest reasons of our visit in the US is to start creating a network in the valley, in order to get possible advices, leads or even investors. Here are some experiences about networking in the Valley.
8th color is just one year old, and just started selling Sybil in Belgium, so this may looks like a bit soon to start exploring markets such as the US. Still, we decided to go with one main idea: making business is a good deal about network and relationships, and those things take time to build, so we started early.
Networking at a coffee shop
Jerry is a team leader for mobile development at Coupons.com. Jerry is a connection of a connection - basically, we said to our network: "we are going one week in California, do you have any contact in IT or HR in the area we could meet?", and organised as much meetings as we could.
We met at a coffee shop near Jerry's workplace, which was the most convenient for him (people are very keen to provide feedback and advices, so the minimum to do is to make it as easy as possible for them). Jerry's job at coupons made him a very interesting person to meet for us, but he did deliver much more than that. First and foremost by a general smart, thoughtful and likeable attribute - Jerry was really trying to help. Secondly, Jerry found Sybil interesting for his own team, and got us in contact with his boss - he actually showed up 25 minutes later at the same coffee shop, as we were preparing our next meeting! We've already scheduled to discuss with Jerry again. Thanks Jerry!
Networking at a Caltrain station
We had the chance to be put in contact with Jayant (again via our common network) a senior software engineer at LinkedIn. Our schedule was quite busy, but Jayant was kind enough to meet us late in the evening. The initial place was a Starbucks that was closed at the time we got there. Having to get back to SF the same evening using the Caltrain, Jayant just proposed to drive us to the station and have our chat there. That lead to this nice picture of Christophe demoing Sybil to Jayant under the rain at the Caltrain station:
With his years of experience, Jayant was able to give us feedback on two points of view: as an engineer interacting with other engineers in his team but also with his knowledge of the career industry. Those were very valuable feedback, and we look forward to discussing with Jayant again. Thanks Jayant!
Meet now, Skype later
Most of those meeting were very short - typical time here is between 15 and 40 minutes, but that is quite enough, especially as people have no problem jumping right on the business - you are busy, most people are too.
But the face to face interaction really starts a conversation and relations, and exchanging mails or using Skype would be much easier afterward as you have some personal connection.
This week was a tremendous opportunity for us, and is just about taking contacts, make it easy for your them, explore opportunities with them, and show your appreciation of their time and support. Those are just two examples and we came to really value the willingness to help that most of the people show in the valley.