Building your Professional Network in a New City
Moving to a new city for your job or for a new job is a lot of change at once. The easy thing to do would be to rely on your co-workers and happy hour to build your professional network and make new friends. This is okay but here’s a list of a few tips to encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and carve your own network of like-minded professionals and friends.
- Be unabashedly friendly. Make a list of everyone you might know and fearlessly reach out to your network to see who they may know.
- Volunteer for an organization. Try volunteering for something weekly or bi-monthly like reading to kids or Habitat for Humanity. Also, join a non-profit board where you can be a contributing member for a community project or event.
- Join an activity club. This can be anything you find interesting, are passionate about, or is just fun and active such as biking, photography, running, or a book club.
- Join your local professional organizations. Don’t just join, actually attend events and social gatherings. For architects and designers a great place to start is: NEWH, ASID, AIA, USGBC, or IIDA.
- Take a class or attend a conference. Check out local colleges or universities where you can take professional development classes. They may also have a speaker series or book signings that you can regularly attend. Also, add local conferences to your calendar.
- Find a trivia night.
- Get outdoors. Walk around your neighborhood regularly, you might notice the same faces and start a conversation.
- Join toastmasters. www.toastmasters.org
- Be a tourist. Do the things tourists would do in your city, it’s a great start to get an overview of the city and your tour guide is most likely a local and can point out the local or more hole-in-the-wall places for you to go.
- Be a local. Find a few local spots that you can visit regularly, it doesn’t have to be a bar or coffee shop, it could be a new yoga studio or even a regular walking path you take. Also, check out local museums, exhibits or events that you can regularly attend.
- Find and join your local alumni chapter.
- Get a dog or walk your dog. Dogs are fantastic ice-breakers and a good way to find like-minded people. If your dog isn’t the super social type, sign-up for training course and you might meet a great connection there.
- Just say yes. Take risks and get outside of your comfort zone.
And for those new in their career and in a new city…
- Shorten your commute. Make sure your daily commute is no more than 30 minutes to work. If you are taking public transportation, make sure it is only one bus or train line with NO transfers.
- Budget, budget, budget. Your living expenses DIRECTLY impact your ability to make career decisions. Create your monthly budget to include a good amount for going out weekly. This might sound odd, but when you move to a city you need to get out of your apartment. Going out can be pricey and before you know it, you’ve spent $300 in a week on meeting for dinner or a drink.
- Choose to live with a roommate to optimize expenses and also to increase professional networking. Go as inexpensive as possible on your total housing budget. Remember, a cheap place is only temporary. If you choose to live paycheck to paycheck, you will be more likely to jump jobs to increase you salary which might not be the best fit and big picture decision early on in your career. You want to be able to make career decisions because you have identified the best moves for you, not because you need or want to make more money.
- Save for travel. Save money monthly (add to your budget) for taking a vacation every year. Too many entry-level workers don’t do this and by the 2nd or 3rd year become burned-out. You have to maintain a work-life balance and plan for it. Travel also helps develop you professionally and personally so it’s a part of your overall career strategy, especially if you choose destinations that are in the same conversation as your line of work.