5 tips before you leave for SF (from Hacker to Hacker)


Hi, my name is Kate Abbott. I was one of the very first students to embark on the incredible Hacker Exchange journey. These are just a few simple tips I thought i’d share with anyone who is travelling for work or study that I found useful during my trip in SF.


Personal Email

This one is really simple; create a professional personal email account.

Once upon a time it may have been cool to use your old msn account, however I can assure you potential contacts will not see the humour in badboi_babe@hotmail.com.

Business Cards

SF is the social hub of networking, meet ups and exchange of business contacts. Don’t be the newbie who pulls out their phone and offers to connect with you on Facebook. Have some business cards ready. Keep it simple – just include your name, email address, Australian mobile (don’t forget the +61) and Skype contact.

BONUS TIP: Choosing a simple white business card means people that you meet can write down a few notes that will jog their memory about how or where they meet you when they reach for that card again. Unlike in some cultures, this is totally acceptable business etiquette in Silicon Valley. You’re welcome.


If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, do it now. Ensure you keep it updated, choose a clear, professional headshot – not like your Facebook profile picture, and include a short summary of your past and current career accomplishments. This goes hand in hand with my next step!

Here is an example of a great LinkedIn profile from one of our very own HEX participants.

Coffee Meet ups

If you’re keen to schedule coffee meet ups while you’re in SF, you should prepare yourself by doing a little stalking beforehand. LinkedIn is a great starting point as you can read up a little about their career history, which businesses or job roles they’ve worked in. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people who interest you. Make sure your initial message or email is succinct and to the point – people are busy! Even better, see if you can wrangle a warm email introduction from a friend or contact, as these always hold more weight.

It’s even more important to know the background of the person you’re meeting once it’s scheduled, as seriously you don’t want to rock up and look foolish because you don’t know what they are talking about or are uninformed about some huge industry news.

30 Second Elevator Pitch

Lucky last. Okay visualise this. You walk into the elevator and BOOM there is Elon Musk standing next to you! You guys might start up a conversation. He asks you about your venture. This is where an elevator pitch comes in handy. Essentially you have 30 seconds to sell yourself, and let’s be honest, not all of us can act this quickly on our feet. I find a great way to start this little pitch is to explain who you are, what is the problem and how you will solve it, and what you’re looking for to help you take your next step. (And if you think we are joking – someone we know had to perform a literal elevator pitch to Craig from Craigslist – in an elevator!)



Stay tuned for future posts where we will dig deeper into topics such as creating your own 30 second elevator pitch and more.