Moving to a new city isn’t easy. It means you likely will leave most of your friends and family behind and start from scratch. For most people it’s an intimidating thought to settle into a new city without an established network to fall back on.
Maybe you’ve already relocated or maybe you’re just thinking about it. It could be for a job, a new university, a spouse, a better standard of living or just a change of scenery. Regardless of the reason, there are good and bad ways to get settled into a new city. I want to share a few ideas that may help you to grow your professional network.
If you’re looking for a job or local experience in your new home, these are especially important because by doing a few of the things listed below you will be able to find many jobs that are never listed on public job sites or anywhere on the internet for that matter.
- Say “yes”
One of the most important things you can do when moving to a new city is to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible. You may be the type to spend your weeknights laying low and watching TV, but if you want to make friends and grow your network you have to be willing to go out and socialise. Sometimes it may be a networking event, a seminar or just a few drinks with new friends. Whatever it is, say “yes” and tag along. You’ll never know what kinds of people you’ll meet if you’re willing to get out and try new things.
Going on Meetup.com and finding events that you’re interested in is a fantastic way to meet new people. The platform is solely there to introduce you to people who share similar interests and to expose you to new ideas. Most of the people that use the site are also looking to make new connections, so you’ll find a lot of people are extremely easy to be friends with. There are plenty of professional events that can lead to great job prospects once you get your name out there a bit.
- Professional Events
If you’re looking for a job in the professional industry this one is especially important. There are often associations or groups for most major professional industries that put on regular events that you should be at. The people that often go to these events are professionals and business owners who just want to grow their professional networks even further. Some, including myself, often go with the intention of hopefully finding some new talent to hire into their businesses. Showing up at these types of events will show that you are passionate about what you do and that means a lot to employers.
- Find a Mentor
While this one may not directly lead you into a job, it is surely a great start. Finding someone who is in the industry that you’d like to be in and is willing to give you some advice is a great strategy to networking. If they are established in the community and you build a relationship with them, it’s likely that they would go above and beyond to help you out in your job search. People often like to give back when they can, so reach out to some people for advice and see if they can point you in the right direction.
Everybody knows that volunteering means working for free. However, it isn’t just something that people do to get experience. There are plenty of successful professionals that just like to give back to the community. By volunteering you’ll often be able to get some experience that you can put on your resume. It’s also very likely that you’ll run into some other people with similar interests who may know somebody that has a job for you. You never know unless you give it a shot. If you’re looking for a job, you should have plenty of time for this sort of thing, so take advantage of it.
- Do an Internship
This one is a bit tougher than volunteering, because you’ll often have to go through a similar process as finding a job. However, it is a great way to get experience and build a network because you’ll be working in a real local business. Once you’re started in the internship, it’s easy to find other professionals that you work with who would be willing to introduce you to friends and other co-workers.
If you’re looking for a professional job and you don’t have a LinkedIn profile then you’re already behind. Create a profile, add your past connections, and start finding new prospects that may lead to future opportunities down the road. When it comes to job searching, this is one of the most effective tools on the internet.
- Connect with Alumni
I can guarantee you that you weren’t the only one who went to a new city after graduating from university. Find out how you can reach out to alumni from your university and get in touch with them . It’s likely that you’ll find at least a couple people who have lived or currently live in your new city. Having a common university, or maybe even a few mutual Facebook friends means you should be able to easily reach out and see if you can get some advice. You’ll find that people are generally very receptive, and would also like to meet other people who they share something in common with such as a home university. If they are already established in your new city, then they could be an invaluable resource for making friends and business connections.
- Leverage Past Connections
Having a LinkedIn profile makes this process much easier. Though, what you’ll find when you move to a new city is that no matter where you go, someone you know probably knows someone there. It may be tough to find them, but it can almost always be done. It could be a high school friend, past teacher, friend of a parent or a distant relative who you’ve never even met. These are all great people to reach out too. Even if you haven’t spoken to them in years, it’s worth a shot. You probably wouldn’t speak to them again anyway, so you have nothing to lose.
- Have a Business Card
This one isn’t about finding people to network with, it’s about making the most of when you do meet people. Whether or not you have a job, you should always have a business card. People in the professional world are still old fashioned when it comes to cards. It’s just the way we do business. If you’re looking for a job, go online and make some personalised business cards and have them printed. It’s takes less than an hour to do and costs only $20-30 dollars for a few hundred cards. It’s well worth the time and money to have something that people can remember you by. It will show you’re serious, and help you tremendously in your future networking.
- Follow Up
Even if you do everything mentioned in this post there is one way to make it all go to waste. That is not follow up with the connections you make. People are busy so you can’t expect them to keep in touch with you. They’ve got established networks and might not be actively looking for friends or new staff. However, if that’s not the case for you, you need to take responsibility for following up. If it’s a mentor, setup a time to take them out to coffee. If it’s a job prospect then send a friendly email saying that you’re still interested. If it’s a potential new friend, send them a text to meet for a drink one night. Whatever you do, do something to follow up.
If you apply a few of these tips after you move to a new city, you should find it much easier to grow a great network. Though, keep in mind that it won’t happen unless you make the effort. Always be on the lookout for events and opportunities. Even if they aren’t always the most interesting, you’ll never know what will happen unless you give it a try.