Article by Reggie Leonard, originally published via LinkedIn.
Moving to a new city is scary business. Especially when you are doing it by yourself. I recently made the leap a few months ago. I had not been applying for jobs, or considering making a move prior to this opportunity opening up, which made everything feel like a whirlwind. I knew that if I did not approach the move with some intentionality, I could easily start my new life in a rut. So, here a few suggestions, based on my experiences, to help you make the most of your big (or not-so-big) move.
Ask friends to connect you with their friends and acquaintances. The more specific you make your “ask,” the more likely your friends are to make a solid connection for you. If you are looking for which part of town to live in, places of worship, or where to spot locals while grabbing a cup of coffee, be sure to mention those things to your friends. Regarding the medium of introduction, I tend to prefer Facebook, as the informality communicates that this is social, and not professional.
Craft a great elevator pitch. “I’m new to town” is a great opener, as it immediately makes you interesting. In order to keep their attention, it is worth taking some time to consider why you chose to make this move, and finding a way to verbalize those motivations. What brought you here? Why now? What are you looking forward to? What are you unsure of? Answering those questions allows the other party to help you by suggesting things you have yet to consider, thus keeping the new connection fresh and engaging.
Inventory your interests and seek out relevant groups. Meetup.com is a treasure trove of connections. If you live in a town or city of moderate size, there are most likely several Meetup groups that you would be interested in joining. Investing time into your hobbies and interests allow you to converse and connect on a deeper level with those who share mutual interests.
Attend networking events. The easiest way to find out about networking events is to identify local chapters of trade organizations associated to your field of work. Additionally, they are often posted on social media, Meetup.com, and circulated via email through your company’s listserv. Don’t worry about “working the room.” Just go. Even if you meet one person, that is one additional point of connection to your new (or newly discovered) city.
Cultivate a generous budget for your first month. You will want to have room for going out with new friends, treating people to lunch, and taking colleagues out for coffee. Do you really want to meet an amazing group of people at a networking event who are looking to go out afterwards, only to have to decline due to a lack of funds? Plan for that as much as possible, as connections make a city feel less lonely and more accessible. If you create the habit of interacting with your new city early on, it will begin to feel like home much sooner.
Become a regular somewhere. Fiscal responsibility is key, which is why the previous point should be kept in mind. Nevertheless, find a place that you can walk to from work or that you pass by on your way home, and go there consistently for a few weeks. Pick a server, barista, or clerk to speak to whenever you go. Also, make your order memorable. Less than two weeks into my recent move, I could walk into a local B&B, and have them say “Cuban Cafecito w/ a little foam on top?” without having to say more than, “Good afternoon!” It makes the town feel like a place you can call home.
Volunteer where your interests lie. You will have the satisfaction of contributing to a worthy cause while learning new things, and you will authentically connect to a community with common interests.
Take relational risks. Self-image preservation is one of the largest hindrances to building strong relationships. We would rather maintain a facade of togetherness than risk looking overly interested. The reality is often that you have not, because you ask not. If someone mentions an interesting event, restaurant, or person, ask if you can tag along or be introduced. You may be afraid to ask, and they may be afraid to volunteer (for fear of falsely assuming that you wanted their help). Ask first. Suggest things. Invite the people you just met.
Move to a part of town that will encourage you to live the life you want to live. If possible, sublease for a month or two before committing to a lease. That will give you a better idea of what it is like to live in that city, allowing you to make a more informed decision regarding your lease or mortgage. It also allows you to experience different parts of the city in ways that only a local can.
These tips can be applied to moving to a new city, or re-experiencing your current city of residence. Building a life is intimidating, but intentionality goes a long away.
What are some suggestions you would add? What would you do differently when moving to a new city?