You must prepare when coming to SV

Don’t think coming to the USA is similar to revisiting a movie you just watched.
The reason we are so pushy about our tips and ‘do’s and don’ts’ has to do that even people who have visited the USA more than once surprise us with responses to these tips. Sometimes I try them out on these ‘veterans’ and when they answer “what about it?” I get suspicious. Tipping? “Well, you know, 5 – 10% if I’m happy”. My first reaction is always one of total amazement. These waiters and waitresses live on their tip of 15 – 20% (the norm) and always do their utmost to please you. Of course, they can also be pretty ticked off when getting such a pittance for their hard work. It is the reason why many restaurants and bars in a tourist magnet like San Francisco print the various tipping fees (15, 18 and 20%) on their receipts.

Peter Laanen in presentation for Holland in the Valley Startup Bootcamp

Peter presents for startups coming to SV their first time

Again, it has to do with the way one has to prepare before visiting the USA. I’ve heard people say “no way I can do an elevator pitch within sixty seconds” too many times to count. Well, you’d better have one prepared when you are in a networking situation. And, networking is something one can do under all circumstances, even at the ballpark, a social event, a bar, etc. If you really want to come here to Silicon Valley to do business, you must be able to show off all your company has to offer, and how unique it is, in a matter of a minute or minutes. When you are starring in a breakfast event where you are invited to present your company, make sure your body language is one that impresses the audience. Go rehearse in front of a mirror; this is your opportunity to make an impression on a crowd willing to make a deal with the candidate who oozes knowledge and self-confidence.

At a reception where you know literally nobody, make sure you use the ‘ice breaker’. What?! Yes, either wear something fancy or put a pin on your lapel showing off your company, your country or your favorite sport club. Nine times out of ten people will ask you what it means, or give you a compliment about your fancy shirt or tie. Now you have the start of a conversation in your pocket! If you’d like to speak with a certain person but there is no one to introduce you; watch him or her and prepare an opening sentence. That could be about shoes or anything about the apparel, but also a general remark that you, like so many others apparently, have a common interest with that person. That common interest could be the industry you are in, a hobby you share or even the beverage he/she is enjoying that very moment. Be creative! And, always, prepare as much as you can before you take that flight to the USA!

Future blogs will explain more about all these topics. If, in the meantime, you have questions regarding the ‘tips and do’s and don’ts’ on our site, shoot me an e-mail at