First connections in San Francisco
Hi everyone, it’s Àlex again. Remember the Martian who wrote this post some weeks ago? That’s me, and I am here to write the second part.
For first-time readers, here’s my long story short: quit my job in Barcelona. Landed in San Francisco. Started a new life. Life is being awesome so far.
As promised, in this entry I will tell you how did I get connected to the most thrilling entrepreneurial scene in a jiffy.
Before that, I would like to announce that I will be representing MarsBased in the upcoming Startup Grind 2014.
All hail the glory of Meetup
Meetup.com might be terrible for some things: you get s***loads of e-mails of recurring events, multi-group events will land multiple times in your inbox, it tries to hard to be a social network while lacking critical features, and it’s got a slow and not very intuitive mobile app.
But it’s an awesome tool to get to know new people. Trust me.
I spent a good couple of hours in my first day in SF just researching groups that were strictly related to my field of work: start-ups, development, growth hacking, entrepreneurship, hackathons, etc. Not only did I sign up for all the events, but I also jumped in the most random stuff Meetup suggested I check. Just for the fun.
And it turned out to be the best decision.
As a matter of fact, my first event was a Dinner Crawl (eat 4 courses in 4 different restaurants) and my second one, the Beer Olympics. None of them were tech-related even in the slightest. Yet in these two events I mingled with Project Managers at Cisco, Interns at Twitter and other sorts of tech-related people. After all, we’re in the capital city of innovation, so no wonder that such events are populated by the most brilliant minds.
Thus, for the last month, I’ve been hitting all sorts of events. Some tech-related, some just crazy stuff. It’s not about the event itself, it’s about the people who you meet there, and what you make out of it.
Eventbrite to help you focus
In order not to get distracted with so many multi-disciplinar events, I use Eventbrite.
Eventbrite is more business-oriented, and it’s got a ticketing system. So even if you’re using it to promote a party, at least you know there’s something slightly well prepared behind it. It can either be a free or a paid event, but you still need to RSVP as if you actually bought a ticket.
In an ideal order of preference, Eventbrite events get my attention more often than Meetup events. But it’s a matter of taste and by no means a general rule. And, of course, there are other sources of events outside of Meetup and Eventbrite that I might not even be aware of.
Cold e-mail: Marketing-style!
Eventbrite and Meetup are great for joining the scene and getting started, but they can be very disperse. Often times you might want to focus on meeting someone special, or talk to that particular company.
For that, I used cold e-mail. For the non-marketers, cold e-mail is the art of sending someone an e-mail introducing yourself trying to get something out of it.
In a city where no one knows where’s the next Twitter / Snapchat / Whatsapp / etc going to spring up from, it’s very common to send & receive such e-mails. And it’s also very common to read them, answer them and politely agree on a meeting.
So right after getting my basic needs covered (accommodation-wise, mostly) on my first week, I started cold e-mailing everyone. I shot e-mails to CEOs of companies I would like to talk to, thought leaders, investors and mostly important people whose contacts I might need. Of course, I was bringing some kind of value to them. While everyone will agree on meeting you, it’s not advisable to make them lose their time. So make sure your elevator pitch is ready to be used on a daily basis. You’ve got ten or thirty minutes to impress them. Afterwards, they might be gone.
Be brave. Try it. You’ll be surprised of the outcome.
Contacts of contacts
Last, but not least: the traditional way. Get referred, for whatever thing you might want to do here. It’s a shortcut to getting to know the right people. People who otherwise would put off reading your e-mail for next week, are more likely to read your e-mail if you’re referred by someone they trust. It’s sensible: I would do that as well, and so would you, isn’t it?
I’m pretty sure that everyone has got an amazing network of contacts here, and so far, everyone has been kindly sharing it with me.
This might have to do with the fact that San Francisco is a major destination for immigrants in the US. Thus, everyone has surely had someone to help them previously, and now it’s their turn to give their help back.
In a nutshell: this is not a “do this and you’ll get results immediately”. This is my personal experience and meant to be taken like that, like a story.
By the way, I’d love to hear your experiences as well. Comment here or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Who knows, I might be able to help you somehow :)
Also remember to follow Barcelona Ventures on Twitter!
This post was originally published on Barcelona Ventures on 2014-02-03: First connections in San Francisco.