Is there a way to tap into Silicon Valley's insider's knowledge when you live elsewhere?

In Silicon Valley’s startup world, there's no shortage of networks. Those include startup accelerators or incubators like 500 Startups, Y Combinator, and Plug and Play Tech Center. Each provides its own distinct ecoystem of investors and entrepreneurs in additions to advisors and mentors and serves a specific purpose. A couple of my personal favorites that I’ve been a part of as as participant or chairperson include VLAB, the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the MIT enterprise forum at Stanford University, and Cleantech Open, a global accelerator for early-stage clean technology startup companies. 

Due to steady market demand, technology platforms used as tools to facilitate the development and maintenance of networks continue to proliferate, and I see few signs of deceleration. These include businesses like Slack, Facebook MIcrosoft's LinkedIn or Yammer, Meetup, Jive, Cisco’s WebEx, Evite, Marketo, DoubleDutch, and Hubspot. (Disclosure: We either regularly analyze or use many of these. For instance, these companies include clients, are highlighted on a Constellation ShortList, exist as part of the technology landscape in our research coverage or function as the technology platform of our Constellation Executive Network mobile app.)

Each technology serves as an enabler to growing networks, by making it easier to stay in touch or facilitate stronger connections, regardless of a person's time zone or physical location. Attracting and serving members has become easier in some ways yet more challenging in other ways. The existence of technology that facilitates people networks has effectively lowered the barriers to entry for new networks.

With what appears to be a glut in the supply of networks, it's now more difficult to identify the right ones to meet your needs. In our case, we designed the Constellation Executive Network, so that leaders located anywhere could tap into either Silicon Valley-based or global perspectives. 

Keep your focus on leveraging networks for sustained personal and professional growth.

Over the past couple of decades, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet or spend time with hundreds of business professionals around the world, ranging from Europe to Asia and across North America. Along the way, I’ve built or run unique, customized programs for more than six diverse networks in either Silicon Valley or North America, two executive networks, including one for a technology startup acquired by IBM and the one that I run now, one California network of clean technology startup founders facing various growth stages, one regional alumni network of global business professionals, and the list goes on. 

One of the most gratifying aspects of evangelizing and overseeing the growth and success of different networks is that I also get to act as a matchmaker between leaders trying to solve business problems and domain experts who can provide sound advice to help. Bringing the right players together is a combination of art and science where you need to be creative and also look at the data and signals.

With our Constellation Executive Network, for instance, I collaborate with our client services team to ensure that we connect our members to the most suitable analyst to advise them. That extra effort requires a customized approach, and it's worth the extra time on our side to make sure that we get it right. We're passionate about partnering with our members to influence better outcomes and to help businesses transform and avoid stagnation.

I’m sure there’s probably a technology platform that performs similar matchmaking functions to what we offer, but for now, we haven't been replaced by artificial intelligence or a robot, and that suits us just fine. We recognize that experiences, relationships, and personal interactions matter, once technology is stripped away. If you have ever seen the disturbingly riveting Amazon Prime series, Humans, or the intriguing movie, Her, you know what I’m talking about. 

Networks are fundamentally about people and communities.

At the end of the day, it’s all about the people. You spend time with them when you need them professionally or personally. When you find time to relax or take a breather, there’s going to be a point in time that usually involves hanging out with your favorite people, and we'd love the opportunity to become part of your group of favorites. Let us know what we can do to make that happen.

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