This post was inspired by a person I have never met in real life, but have struck up conversations across the social web about relocationing and networking. [ilink url=”http://www.linkedin.com/pub/maryanne-shew/7/950/202″]Maryanne Shew[/ilink] and I have both moved to new cities at the same time. Maryanne has moved to Salt Lake City and I have Virginia Beach, VA. We have been having conversations about our experiences over on facebook, so I decided to share some experiences and tips about how to establish a new network of people, organizations, and companies. Some of things that may work for me as a guy, may not work for woman and vice a versa. More about this later in the post.
Here is the conversation that inspired me to make this post:
How to start over in a new city where you barely know anyone. Let me tell you it is not easy. I lived in Minneapolis for 15 years. That is a long time to be in one place, right? Well it is for me since graduating college. So we picked up everything and moved to Virginia Beach, VA in July 2011. The reason my wife got a huge career opportunity here and we decided to take the risk and dig up the roots and plant them here in Virginia. From what I am told this is rather unique. I do believe in the next five to ten years this will become common place, so you fellas support your woman when they have this chance.
Here are some tips at going about rebuilding a new network, while maintaining the one you have have already built. This is very important. Just because you are in a new city with new people does not mean you neglect the relationships you have built and cherished.
1. Use your connecting skills on twitter
Being that I have fully engaged on twitter since April, 2008 it has become second nature to find people on twitter for me. I find twitter being the lowest barrier for connecting. All you have to do is hit the follow button and bam you are partially connected already. Now with the follow button has to come some organization of this noise or you will not effectively use it for reestablishing your network. Once the decision had been made that we were relocating I setup a Twitter List called Virginia Beach to start adding profiles to it as I found people that lived in this part of the country.
This list contains people, companies, and news outlets for the region. By following people and adding them to the list right away I was able to setup a column on my Seemic web and a short cut on my EVO to follow the conversations happening in this list. That is only 50% of the equation of this networking activity. Then you have to start having conversations with people to truly make the connections. If you find interesting things people or companies are saying ReTweet them. If you find something to respond to, respond to it. Start promoting things in the area events, conferences, and jobs.
This helps to show commitment to helping out the area not just broadcasting. Now the conversations may not happen right away, that is ok. These new people have to get to know. Have patiences the conversations will happen!
2. Use searches on Meetup.com
I have to admit I really forgot how much organizations and people use meetup.com! I used to use this tool a lot a couple years ago, but like many tools if the communities you are involved are not using them, you tend to place them on the back burner. Well when starting in a new city Meetup is a vital resource to finding out, engaging and getting involved in a new city or region. There are a many many many organizations that use meetup to schedule events and organize communities.
The first thing I did was update my profile to begin my searching and getting new information email to me based on my new city. After updating my profile I bagan searching for organizations that fit my professional and personal interests. This can be many different things to many different people, so right size it to your needs. I have been looking for recruiting organizations, social media organizations, project management organizations, and non-profits to get involved with here in Virginia Beach or Norfolk.
I have already joined one meetup group and looking to join others real soon. The biggest step you will need to take is registering for events and showing up. This will changer everything for you. You can not play on the sidelines of this platform. This tool is used to truly live the long-tail of the on and offline relationship. Trust me you will be nervous, unsure about going and scared. It is ok, everyone is, I know I am sometimes.
3. Find events on Eventbrite.com
Much like meetup.com Eventbrite.com is an events planning and community organization platform. Once again update your profile so people know you live in the area. Then start doing searches for events you want to attend. Many of these events will be paid events, so break open the wallet.
There will be return on the small investments you make. Now what I have seen you will find all kinds of events to attend on eventbrite! So invest time is searching one time events and reoccurring events. This platform will get you involved very quickly. Additionally if you don’t find what you are looking for create your own event!
Yes you being new to a city can start your own events. I saw this a lot in Minneapolis and many of them have built quite a community of participation. So if you think your new city may be missing an organization or a monthly type of event CREATE IT! This will for sure be a benefit to the community as well to yourself getting plugged in and engaged.
4. Find new folks by their bio’s on twitter using Followerwonk.com
This platform has proven to be my biggest asset in finding people in my new city! I was introduced to this tool by my very good friend Kary Delaria about a year and half ago! This platform let you find people based on their twitter bio’s. Once again when I learned we were moving I started researching people’s twitter bio’s in the cities that I was going to be living in and by.
Now I am not suggesting start following everyone that shows up in your search. Start with a plan and some criteria you would like to find people. First search find people with the same city as you. You may already be following people in that city based on previous interaction. The platform shows the following relationship.
Here is an example of how the tool shows the relationship: Followerwonk after searching Virginia Beach:
5. Use Tweet.Grader.com to find top Tweeters in your new area!
Hubspot has made a great free tool to find people and or companies in your new area. You can read bio’s and view how the internet views people and companies in your new area. To take the next step is follow these people and utilize suggestions #1. This will keep all these new people organized and actionable. You will be able to reach out quicker if you add to list or you are just adding them to your following and hoping you see in your feed. Here is an example of the search I used:
These tools along with your online profiles should help you get started rebuilding your professional and personal connections in your area. Then it is up to you to start meeting people offline. None of these tools can help with that. The platforms can help you organize, find, and lower the barriers for communication, but they will be all for naught if you don’t take it offline and let people get to know you IRL (In Real Life). This brings me to the the interesting point Maryanne brought up.
I started making the above suggestions to make connections, then I mentioned to start asking people to meet for coffee or lunch. Which she promptly told me this is much different for woman than it is for men. Which I had to pause and think about this comment. My perspective was and has always remained “It is just coffee or lunch!” For me making this suggestion did not matter to me whether you were a woman or a man.
With Maryanne’s explanation that a single woman in a new city the opposite gender may get the wrong idea, which makes the next step of IRL in a one on one situation not as quick. A few group events may be the direction before this step is taken in most cases for woman. Which has now enlightened me to understand when making the request out of the blue to woman.
Woman go through a different thought process about this request than I do. So thank you Maryanne for that suggestion. Don’t let this stop the connecting, I am suggesting just be aware of the situation, gender, and perspective when making the ask. Now go forth and rebuild that network!
If there are other platforms or people I should be connecting with please leave a comment below! Oh and Maryanne and I have also discussed doing a co-written post about what does our networks and experiences look like 4 or 6 months later. Also I have asked Maryanne to make a guest post on my site (can not wait for her to do this, giddy actually!!!)