If you’re moving to a new city for a new job, building up a local network of friends and colleagues can be daunting and lonely. Here are some tips that may be useful, based on my personal experience of moving from NYC to San Francisco.
Ask your current network for connections
When your friends from your “old” city ask you what they can do to help you get settled, consider asking them to introduce you to people you should meet in your “new” city. Even though not every introduction will necessarily be life changing, you never know when you might find a great new friend, a potential new employer, or even find a roommate.
Additionally, don’t forget to go to social events with work colleagues, too. Let your new coworkers know that you are eager to meet new people and ask if they can recommend new places or make introductions. Sometimes one of the best ways to expand your network is by tapping into the one you already have.
Find local chapters of existing associations
When I moved to San Francisco, one of the first things I did was to join San Francisco chapters of organizations I was affiliated with in New York. Make a list of the associations you’re a part of that might have chapters in your new city. Here are a few to start:
- A professional association (like Net Impact or 85 Broads)
- Your university or graduate school or any other academic associations
- Your spiritual or religious organization, if that’s your thing
- Local nonprofit associations
- A large nonprofit that has a fundraising chapter in your new city (like Acumen)
Join new activity groups
Not every organization has chapters in every city, but most places have a wide variety of events. Make a list of all the things you like to do in your free time, which may include:
- Sports or outdoor activities
- Yoga, meditation, or relaxing activities
- Cultural or artistic activities like singing groups, painting, concerts, etc.
- Co-working spaces where you can be part of an online social network as well as an in-person network, attend events, and meet people who share your outlook on life (one I like a lot is called The Hub since it’s global)
- “Touristy” things like walking tours or museum tours
Once you have a list of everything you’re interested in, sign up for some email newsletters or listerves of organizations that work on these topics or join a few Meetups. You can also search on Eventbrite by topic.
It’s also a good idea to observe the ‘vibe’ of your new city. What does it have to offer? What’s different about your new city that you might explore? In Los Angeles, film is big. In San Francisco, gourmet local organic food and hiking are in. In New York, there is tons of great theater and art, among many other things. Find groups, events, or activities that reflect the dominant interests of your new city so you can get more in touch with your new community.
Take the lead
Think of an organization or group that you really want to be part of and think of ways to help lead new activities. Maybe it’s a weekly happy hour at work or a guest lecture with your university alumni group. Ask the group leader if you can volunteer to run an event – often, they’ll be happy to have some help. Or start your own event series or organize a get-together for people you want to meet anyway. By taking a leadership role, you can gain respect from people you want to know, and have an excuse to talk to people you don’t know – because you can invite them to your event!
This isn’t an activity per say but rather an idea to help you make connecting with others a priority. Sometimes setting a goal of meeting a certain number of new people per week or attending events can be helpful.
One app I know that’s designed to help people achieve personal goals is Everest. You can also stay in touch with a friend from your “old” city by asking him or her to be an “accountability buddy” to help keep you on track in meeting goals you set for yourself. For example, if you want to meet five new people per week, your friend can help you stay accountable to that goal. If you need some extra help to get out of a rut and achieve a difficult goal, check out stikK. They take your credit card info and if you don’t achieve the goals you set for yourself, stikK gives money to some cause you designate (which could be a cause you don’t like so that you’ll want to stay focused on your goal).
So when you arrive to a new city, try combining these strategies of expanding your existing network while cultivating a completely new set of connections so you don’t have to explore your new city alone.
What strategies have you used to get established in a new city? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments.
Katharine is a consultant and connector in business-driven social innovation, including fields such as social intrapreneurship, social entrepreneurship, impact investing, CSR, and corporate innovation. Her experience includes work in a global company in consulting, marketing, and IT operations as well as advising various nonprofits and startups. In 2012, she was a Finalist for the Net Impact “Impact at Work” award for her “intrapreneurship” in a global employee volunteering group at work. She enjoys helping people connect to resources, funders, and opportunities through facilitating meaningful connections. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, hiking, cooking and meditation. You can follow Katharine on Twitter @kbierce