The Business Leaders Network

TravelingGeeks – lesson learned. Silicon Valley’s secret sauce?


I just worked out why Silicon Valley is the greatest place on earth to be a technology company.

So the travelinggeeks (or travellinggeeks) depending on which country you are from and whether you can spell have been in the UK and it looks like they have had the kind of week that almost any sane person would dread. 11 hour flight into hot, sticky, UK, 8 hour time difference = exhausted before you start and then into full on party, meet, greet, hello, hello, goodbye, say something on stage, meet, hello, goodbye, party, hello, say something relentlessness that just goes on and on and on. And on. And everyone wants a piece of them at the endless series of events, corporate events, entrepreneur events, public sector events etc etc.

They must be exhausted.

Cambridge people can tire after one night's partying

Cambridge people can tire after one night's partying

I saw them in Cambridge today and whilst the round table was a little short on insight for anyone that has spent any time reading, listening or talking about social media one thing just blew me away about them. Every single one of them networked their way round the room better than anyone I have ever seen. Simply awesome.

When they walked into the room, they smiled at people, they actively engaged, they were friendly, they listened to people, they held out their hands to shake. They sat down in their chairs, introduced themselves to the people they were sitting next to, the people behind them, asked them what they did. They made people feel important, welcome, wanted, interesting, special, interesting. They included people in conversations – seamlessly and effortlessly.

Howard Rheingold and JD Lasica excited about Kate Stone's Novalia

Howard Rheingold and JD Lasica excited about Kate Stone's Novalia

If that is the norm in Silicon Valley, it is no wonder it is the most networked place and the centre (center) of the world’s innovation and technology. It makes us look like stuck up amateurs in the UK (errrm…)

A funny thing happened as a result. People talked, other people in the room talked to each other, not just the people they knew, but other people. Information was exchanged, ideas shared, people who didn’t know what each other were up to ended up agreeing to meet. Business will happen because of it.

A great networker I have known for a long time introduced me to a banker they knew today as the ‘Networking King’. I had a moment of pride until I realised that in fact, I am in a different league to these guys (and not in a way that is necessarily good for Cambridge, London or the UK). I need to learn more from the masters and mistresses.

Thanks for my first lesson:

  • Meghan Asha – @meghanasha
  • Renee Blodgett – @MagicSauceMedia
  • Susan Bratton – @susanbratton
  • Tom Foremski – @tomforemski
  • Sarah Lacy – @sarahcuda
  • JD Lasica – @jdlasica
  • Craig Newmark – @craignewmark
  • Ayelet Noff – @blonde20
  • Howard Rheingold – @hrheingold
  • Jeff Saperstein –
  • Sky Schuyler – @jimsky7
  • Robert Scoble – @scobleizer

No question that Cambridge is a nicer place to live. I like living in the UK. If we can fix the networking, other good stuff will follow.

3 responses to “TravelingGeeks – lesson learned. Silicon Valley’s secret sauce?”

  1. Nice blog, as always.

    I had the joy of sitting with the Geeks earlier and hearing their great insights into the Cambridge cluster. Apparently the rap in Europe is that we are insular (guess that goes with being an island) and not willing enough to let multinationals buy all the assets locally (seems having Google or Yahoo on the doorstep has become a prerequisite to making a societal contribution). It was equally delightful to hear from our local champions that our home region of the Greater South East (or the Golden Triangle) is the biggest concentration of venture capital in Europe, that University of Cambridge was matching US universities on most output measures aside from income (which always has a 20 year lag in a patent game) and that we felt that local companies like ARM and CSR who have achieved market dominance in their own fields meant that we had some things to teach Silicon Valley too.

    But you are right. Individually, lovely people, and great commitment on their part to make the journey. And such colourful outfits!!

  2. Melvin F. DeVorchik says:

    Well this is a great observation…….I have said this in private, maybe this will start a new trend in Cambridge because it has come from you.In my opnion it is about calloboration of all the players….Do the buisness, but have FUN doing it….not who has got the best company…..On the global stage Cambridge is only part of the story.Some people in Cambridge it seems the only story……

  3. Wish I had been with you rather than up a hill with the sheep in Wales. Have been promoting DuoFertility, shaking hands and smiling but it is tough if you are a Brit! Great post.