Women 2.0 Founder Friday at the Google Campus in London was the first tech event that I attended. I’d just arrived back in London, I’d just launched Packed Munches and I figured the best way to learn would be to hear from those that have done. The speaker at the November event was Bindi Karia, the Vice-President of Silicon Valley Bank (you can follow her on twitter @bindik). I have friends that work in tech so I knew that the tech dress code is
*cough* slightly more casual than that in law so I wore what I considered to be a pretty casual outfit. I’d actually volunteered to help register guests at the event and meet and great the speaker, so in walked Bindi with Gabbi Cahane (a Venture Marketer) and Bindi was wearing a gorgeous beige cardigan (nothing too controversial about that) and Gabbi was wearing double denim (a denim jacket with matching jeans). Normally I would always argue that double denim is not and more importantly should not be a thing, ever, but dammit it worked! You can see the evidence below but I digress. My point was that I knew right there that I had fallen down a rabbit hole and definitely left the world of law.
Bindi was an amazing speaker. The event was quite small and Bindi and Gabbi worked well together, with him acting as a moderator and drawing helpful advice from her. As someone quite networking averse (it’s always seemed a dirty word to me) I asked if she had any tips on networking and finding a mentor. When it comes to networking Bindi is a pro and I thought her advice was pretty great so here it is:
– Pay it forward. Networking isn’t about being a leach but how you can connect people and be connected. In order for it to be effective you have to able to connect people yourself. Don’t be a networking jerk.
– When you’re connecting people, make it clear why you’re making the introduction. Do not follow the advice of Barney in HIMYM
Okay so Bindi didn’t say the last bit, that was me, but it enforces the point no?
– If you are going to make an introduction make sure you ask your network first if they’re interested in you introducing them to someone. If that person isn’t interested, and you have given their details to another person, you lose your appeal to both.
– If you’re looking for a mentor, a contact, assistance say why you’re contacting the individual: What’s your business? How are you going to be beneficial to them? Why them?
– You should look at your network as seeds. They need to be watered in order to grow so don’t forget to follow up, let them know where you met them and what was discussed. The reality is, especially with the big players (I haven’t worked out who they are yet), that they meet hundreds of people a week who like you only want a tiny bit of their blood, so be helpful and make it easier for them to remember who you are!
My favourite piece of advice was BE RESILIENT. DO NOT BE SCARED OF REJECTION. I think that has to be my biggest fear so from henceforth no more!
Now I prefaced my questions with both an apology (in the style of a true Brit) and an admission that I’m not really part of the tech world but very much interested in it. Both Gabbi and Bindi stopped me and first told me to stop apologising (apparently I had preceeded every statement I made with an apology – how mortifying! I wanted to apologise for that but bit my tongue) and second told me that by selling online I was indeed a part of the tech world and furthermore, by volunteering for Founder Friday was in fact now immersed. Somehow I’d managed to drink from the bottle without realising it!
Well here it goes – down the rabbit hole I go.