Relocation is undoubtedly exciting as a change of scenery usually is, but it can also be difficult. There are a million different reasons why people find themselves uprooted from one city and deposited in another.
But there’s one common thing that everyone who has relocated shares: Starting over from scratch.
It means you have to make new friends.
It means you have to figure out where the nearest grocery store, gas station, pharmacy, etc. etc., are located.
But while you are finding your way around your new surroundings and looking for work, it also means that you have to build up your network from scratch.
This alone can be completely intimidating when you don’t know a soul in your new city.
But here are some tips to help you get through the worst of it to get onto the right path of finding a job.
Tap into your professional industry memberships.
Many national membership organizations have local area chapters. A membership with people in other cities is already a common bond you share, so take advantage of it! Research the new chapter and make plans to go to one of their meetings. You are already running with the right crowd — it’s new faces, but the same background. This creates a huge opportunity for you to start rubbing elbows with people in the precise field that you are in, and might lead to job leads!
Ask for an introduction within your existing contacts.
It takes a little courage to do this, but if you have a specific target company at which you would like to work, look to your existing contact base to see if anyone in your old hometown knows someone in the new community. They could provide a vital introduction to hiring managers, key influencers, or helpful “connectors” who can get you in touch with the right person. As with any kind of request such as this, it is important to graciously thank anyone who goes out of their way to help you, regardless of the results.
Use social media.
If you are already on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, you know that social media is a great way to interact with people online/virtually, but translating those connections into in real life meetings has powerful impacts. Most people are as they seem online, but you can cement that personal connection by suggesting a meeting once you get to the new town where you will be living. Most people on these online social media platforms are engaged, open, and willing to help, so make sure you tap into this as a great asset. And always remember to thank them as well!
Network at local business groups.
Depending on your target industry and the job function that you are pursuing, general business groups like a chamber of commerce or business journal offer events and opportunities to network and engage with other people from a wide array of businesses. By connecting with them, you are beginning to build your local business base, and you never know where this will take you.
There is no better way to gain a grassroots local base than to get involved with a local group. If you can find one that is related to your particular industry, all the better. You can also capitalize on a membership within a specific industry association and become a volunteer on a committee or board to gain some additional visibility within your own peer group.
Go to a local conference.
Want instant access to key decision makers/players? Step up to help out at a local conference where you are staffing the registration desk. Imagine how many people you can meet (and see their names) face-to-face at a conference!
Stay well-read locally.
Subscribe to local papers to get sense of local happenings, issues, and opportunities. Developing an understanding of your new hometown is critical in shaping how you approach target companies — you want to make sure you personalize your approach to make sure you hit the mark as close as possible.
Join a Meetup.
Meetups and other online groups literally have a group for everything. Sometimes, informal gatherings take away the full-court pressure of trying to network towards a job and focus more on the social connections. As most jobs are found through someone that you know, building a local base of like-minded people can prove fruitful in the long run.
Dawn Rasmussen, CMP, is the president of Portland, Ore.-based Pathfinder Writing and Careers, which specializes in mid- to upper-management résumés. She is an active volunteer in her community and donates her time teaching a résumé writing class at the Oregon Employment Department every week to help empower unemployed professionals and workers.