Advice Overload in San Francisco
by Jason -- October 15, 2011
I’m currently in California, here for a little over 3 weeks. The primary reason I’m here is to attend three weddings. I can’t thank my friends enough for lining up all of their weddings for me. Unfortunately though, I’m Sharonless. She’s still in Korea and was only able to get 3 days off for her sister’s wedding (the last of the 3 weddings).
While I’m in California I’m trying to network as much as possible – see old friends, meet new friends and frankly just talk with as many smart people as I can about what they’re working and what I’m working on.
My first week here just wrapped up. I spent it in San Francisco, enjoying some absolutely amazing weather. It was a successful week; I was able to catch-up with friends, meet a few travel entrepreneurs whom I had never met in person and meet with some potential investors as well. In this post I wanted to discuss settings up the meetings and the actual meetings themselves, and share some of my learnings from going through this process.
Setting Up the Meetings
Most of the meetings I tried to set up were pretty warm, meaning that I had either been introduced to the person or they had been a past interview guest for my Unanchor blog. I learned a few things from this process and wanted to share them:
- I sent my initial meeting requests one to two weeks ahead of time – allowing me time to send a follow-up email if I didn’t hear back.
- The follow-up email is more important than the first email. I didn’t look at the exact numbers, but roughly 60% of the people whom I reached out to answered my first email. But my second email was almost 100%. In fact, of the 14 people I tried to setup meetings with, there’s been only one whom I haven’t heard from (he was a pretty big stretch to be honest).
- Keep the emails brief.
- I’ve read to recommend a specific day and time. I chose to recommend a block of time instead and let them choose the hour. For example: “Coffee on Tuesday morning?”.
- Finding out people’s email addresses is easier than ever. Download Rapportive and then start guessing. When you’ve guessed correctly, Rapportive will show their profile. Read more about this.
An Example Email
Subject: Coffee Meeting the 11th?
How’s it going? [1 personalized sentence or question.]
I’m going to be in San Francisco next week and was wondering if you have a few minutes to grab a cup of coffee and catch-up? Are you available next Tuesday afternoon, the 11th?
I’ve been watching the TechStars Bloomberg reality TV show. On the show they discuss “mentor whiplash”. It’s what you receive when meeting with mentors, asking for advice and then receiving conflicting and different recommendations. These past 5 days felt pretty close to that. Luckily, most of the advice didn’t necessarily conflict, but there were many different ideas and directions recommended to take the business.
To be honest, I loved this past week. While it was a lot to take in, I learned a heck of a lot! It’s a week like this that made me realize why the Silicon Valley is the Silicon Valley. I was able to easily meet with numerous entrepreneurs and investors all doing different and interesting things. It makes me look forward, even more so, to moving back to San Francisco.
Time to turn off the brain and catch up on some TV!
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