🌉How do I connect and learn from others in tech if I don’t live in a tech hub (NY, SF, Austin)?

Melissa Chenok
3 min readJul 23, 2022

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Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

It has historically been more challenging to get tech jobs if you don’t live in a major tech-focused area (i.e. New York City, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Austin). Even if you could find a job in the town you live in, it is difficult to connect with and learn from other folks with similar skills as there are fewer accessible events, conferences, meetups, and natural connection points. With the shift to remote work, folks are moving across the country (and outside of the country) and have had to grapple with shifting learning and connection opportunities to the virtual world. As we emerge from the pandemic (whatever that means and looks like), many of these opportunities will remain accessible to people who are not in the larger tech hubs. Here are some ways that I have taken advantage of connecting with and learning from others as someone who does not live in a big city — let me know if you have any others that I should add to the list!

🤝 Meet people virtually

Schedule a recurring phone call or video meetup. I have had over 25 recurring conversations with folks over the past year who I connected with virtually. Talking with folks who have similar experiences and others who have very different experiences has allowed me to stay connected to the community and to my own desires for my career. I can talk to a PM at Microsoft and learn a ton from them while realizing that a big tech company is not for me. I can talk to a PM who is in the same domain as I am and learn tips and tricks about how their organizations function in this area. Some ways to find folks to connect with:

  1. Reach out to folks on LinkedIn or Twitter
  2. Ask colleagues if they have friends in your function or domain that they would be willing to connect you with
  3. Join a peer mentorship group
  4. “Product (tech)” speed networking
  5. Tech slack groups (mind the product, women in product, etc)

👓 Watch live events

So many conferences and events are now virtual or have a virtual component to them whether live streaming or sharing recordings post-event. You can attend sessions that relate to skills you are trying to build or areas of interest. Often you can use professional development budget to pay for the conferences and if you don’t have funding from your company for this, recordings are regularly made available for free after the event (I have also found that if you reach out directly, conferences will occasionally offer virtual tickets for free — always worth a shot). Here are are some lists of product conferences happening in 2022:

  1. Productboard “51 product management conferences
  2. Product Talk “Product conference list
  3. PMHQ “5 best product conferences

📚 Read Articles/Books/Listen to podcasts

I personally like to learn by “doing” but often times I don’t know what to “do” to get done what I’m looking to accomplish. One of the key ways that I prioritize learning is through reading articles, twitter posts, books, and listening to podcasts. I have a list of resources for new and aspiring product managers here but if I had to narrow down to the top 5 resources I come back to weekly (note: these are for PMs but anyone can leverage them), they would be:
1. Melissa Perry’s Product Thinking Podcast

2. New articles from SVPG

3. Lenny Rachitsy’s Podcast

4. Product School Videos

5. Obviously need to include Marty Cagan’s Inspired and Empowered

What else have you found helpful to do to stay connected both in the virtual world or as someone who is not living in a tech hub?

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Melissa Chenok