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Want to Network in Southern California? 2 Organizations to Know

I have not
worn a necktie since I moved to California 6 years ago. My sense of
punctuality, too, has been collecting dust on my tie rack. My social networking
skills, on the other hand, are buffed, shined, and polished.

Thanks to a
number of dense commercial centers known as “industrial clusters”, California
is a place where business opportunities grow from relationships as casual as
the dress code. Clusters are dense commercial areas, usually dominated by a
single industry and the relevant support services (law, marketing, finance,
etc).

Silicon
Valley
set the
fashion trend for the rest of California by trailblazing the idea of region-wide
innovation. A constant cycle of startups and spinoffs would absorb and reabsorb
local talent.
Wilfred Corrigan, founder of LSI Logic, once remarked,
“There are a lot of people who come to work in the morning believing that they
work for Silicon Valley.”

It was not long before Valley imitators sprung up all along
the coast.

Practically speaking, the important
thing to know for interested networkers
is
that local non-profits specializing in the creation of
cluster culture are an excellent way to integrate oneself into the community
. Here are 2 of my favorite non-profits
in Southern California.

OCTANe – OCTANe is a full-service networking
organization for Orange County. OCTANe has its own local Monster.com-style job
directory, it assists the formation of startups, it connects novice
entrepreneurs to venture capitalists, and it hosts a few very large business
conference yearly (always attended by business elite). New college graduates
can even test out business presentations in front of veteran CEOs for criticism
and (maybe) an offer for first-stage funding. I sat on OCTANe’s Generation Y
outreach council and was continually impressed by the organization’s
professionalism. (I should also note that Orange County is attempting to become
the Silicon Valley of the medical industry.)

Connect – Connect is an older, more
established version of OCTANe for the San Diego region. In addition to the
usual cluster activities, Connect frequently holds an MIT-Enterprise forum. The
Forum, among many things, is an open-invitation, round table discussion of how
to keep San Diego innovation thriving, as well as a place for start-ups to get
honest feedback on their business strategy. In true California style, Connect
takes Forum members on a wine tour to
chat business over some of the best Vino in the world.

So, come on
over to my state. We’ll go surfing, found a start-up, go public, and down a
bottle of wine all before the weekend is over,

About the author

I am a writer and an educator. As a writer, I investigate how technology is shaping education, politics, Generation Y, social good, and the media industry.

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