Building your network is the most important thing you can do in Silicon Valley. Your network can determine if you’ll be successful or not. Whether you’re raising funding, hiring employees, looking for new business opportunities, looking for new job opportunities – getting the right introductions to the people you want to meet with through your connections will increase your rate of success.
Since Silicon Valley Forum’s foundation more than 30 years ago, networking has always been the key to what we do. Today we put together up to 90 events, programs and conferences a year to facilitate connections between startups, investors, tech companies and service providers. Post-event surveys show that while there are several reasons for attending our events such as personal development, event program and potential business opportunities, networking is the number one reason to why people participate.
3 quick steps to making the right connections
- Since the primary reason for attending events is networking, don’t be afraid to walk up to a stranger and say hello. People expect you to!
- Start a conversation with a question related to the topic of the event – “so what do you do within__________?”. You’re both at the event because the topic is relevant for you and therefore the highest chance of synergy usually lies within the subject matter. Either you’ll find something in common right away or you’ll be able to connect with the person in the future.
- Before ending the conversation, remember to exchange business cards so you can follow up with the person the day after – either through connecting on LinkedIn or sending a follow-up email.
Here are some other popular articles about networking that can provide you with even more tips and tricks:
- How Successful People Network with Each Other by HBR.
- The Habits of the Most Successful Networkers by FastCompany.
- Learn to love networking by HBR.
To build and nurture your network in an authentic way is a skill, but it’s not mission impossible. For those whose networking skills aren’t of second nature, there are tools like Brella (more on Brella below) to facilitate networking, making it more efficient and a little bit less scary (networking is actually pretty scary for some, believe it or not).
The challenges of networking still remain…
While everyone in Silicon Valley is aware that networking is important it is not always the easiest thing to do – to just walk up to a stranger without knowing what to talk about. Thus, there are two challenges with networking:
- How do I know who to talk to at an event? How can I find the right person to talk to at an event?
- What topic will interest the person I am talking to? Do we have anything in common to talk about?
We have all struggled with these challenges when attending events, and after an entire day or evening of networking, we might have found a few of the people we’ve talked to be relevant for us. So how can we make the time spent on networking more efficient? Silicon Valley Forum choose to partner with Brella to solve these exact challenges.
Brella – the tool for successful networking
Silicon Valley Forum was the first event organizer in the US to test out Brella.io, a startup providing a networking tool for events. Feeling the pain points of networking at events, the founders, Markus Kauppinen and Janne Puustinen, set out build the simplest and most user-friendly networking tool for event organizers and event participants alike.
Brella provides a platform where event organizers onboard their event participants. The participant sign up on brella.io with their Linkedin profile and select his/her interest and automatically get matched with participants that have the same interests. The user sees participants in which he/her have been matched with as well as all other participants of the event who have signed up for Brella. The user can choose to set up 1-on-1 meetings with whoever he/she like to meet with.
Picture taken from Women in Tech Festival 2016.
The pilot test of Brella at the Women in Tech Festival 2016 was a success, and we saw an engagement in the tool that exceeded our expectations. Despite Brella’s relatively unknown brand, the necessity of users signing up, and only the bare minimum of promotion, 50% of the event participants signed up for the tool and 99% of the users were satisfied with the experience.
Silicon Valley Forum and Brella are dedicated to improve event experience and hope to build on the success of the pilot test and help our attendees in making meaningful long-term connections. We’re excited to announce that we’ve partnered up with Brella to incorporate the tool at our three largest conferences this spring 2017, including Women in Tech Festival 2017 – Building the SHE-conomy. Stay tuned for the announcements of our other two conferences. In the meantime, early-bird tickets are on sale now for the Women in Tech Festival 2017 on March 24th-25th so make sure to get a ticket, support women in tech, and network away with Brella!
Author: Xi-Er Dang
Product Marketing Specialist