When you move to a new city, you often have to create a new network from scratch. Just as in homemade muffins, the results can be far superior to muffins from a mix or the networking you did in a city where you had instant connections through family and friends.
Starting over can be intimidating, but it offers the opportunity to be focused and thoughtful. You can choose to invest your energy where it will bring you the best returns. Here’s how to start networking again in a new hometown:
- Choose a goal or two. Around the time of your move, sit down for a few minutes and think of what you’ll need from your network in your new hometown. You may be focused on growing your career, learning about an industry new to you, or even starting to make connections within your new place of employment. This is a step worth scheduling on your calendar. At least twice a year, take stock of what you need from your network, to help you fine-tune your networking efforts.
- Aim carefully. Search online or ask some of your new colleagues about networking opportunities that align with your goals. You’ll find industry groups, charitable organizations, age oriented groups (young professionals, etc.), and many other networking events scheduled in your new hometown. Choose a reasonable number to attend, with an eye to creating and growing a network that serves your current needs.
- Acquire a few targets. Make note of a few notable attendees or speakers, movers and shakers in your focus area, and plan to make a connection at an upcoming event. This makes networking from scratch feel more personal and keeps your efforts focused. Targeted introductions are easier for everyone than exhausting yourself with a broad approach and shaking 30 hands and attempting 30 introductions! Even introverts can network more comfortably with a plan.
- Do your homework. Pinpoint a question you can ask, something specific that you’d really like an answer to. This gets the conversation going with your target, and makes it easier to approach them. Be thoughtful about your choice of topic; vague questions on the direction of your industry or how to succeed in your new hometown are too general and show a lack of preparation. Still unsure what to ask? Try asking what they’d like to see more members of the network group contribute…time? Leadership? Something else? Then be willing to discuss how you could help meet that need. This gives you something to offer, and an instant way to get more involved, even in a brand new city. Networking is a two-way connection!