When you waved goodbye to the professional network it took years to build in your last city, you left behind encouragement, connections and business friends. Now you’ve got to start all over again.
Don’t worry, though. Building a professional network when you relocate is easier than ever. Below are 12 tips from professionals who know the ins and outs of creating a professional network:
1. Roll up your sleeves at the chamber of commerce.
Aaron Norris got involved in leadership, served on chamber boards and started teaching small business marketing. “It allowed me to meet business professionals from all over the community in different sectors,” says Norris, vice president of the Norris Group.
2. Focus on your industry.
“I’m always a little baffled when people start building professional networks completely out of context of their profession,” says Rob Satrom, a business development consultant. Join local trade associations, attend Industry-specific events and listen to presentations by speakers in your field.
3. Know the movers and shakers.
Identify who’s influential in your community and join their e-newsletter, says marketing manager Cassandra Schwartz. Those people will share information on events. Then when you meet them, “you’ll have something to pull from during your conversation,” Schwartz says.
4. Get out of your comfort zone.
If you’re an introvert, the last place you want to be is in a room packed with chit-chatty strangers. Try committing to making at least one to three meaningful connections at events, says Keith McHugh, a career consultant. As you grow more comfortable, your new group will connect you with other professionals and networking groups.
5. Let people know you’re new in town.
Tell someone you’ve just relocated and “They’ll jump at the opportunity to make recommendations,” says Schwartz.
6. Offer value.
What you offer people you meet can be small, big, business-related or personal, says Jason Hill, CEO of Sound Advice, a staffing and recruiting company. “It can be a hot tip on a restaurant. As long as you’ve helped them, then you’ve added value to their life,” he says.
7. Be genuine.
Connect with others with genuine curiosity, says Satrom. “If you walk around trying only to find people that do something for you, you’ll repel the type of character and integrity that you’d benefit from networking with,” he says.
8. Tap your alumni network.
Locate the local chapter of your college, attend the next event and take on a task no one else wants like writing the newsletter or cleaning up after an event, says Nancy Halpern, an executive coach. “You’ll meet lots of new folks and already have a common bond.”
9. Go full throttle.
When Fabienne Fredrickson founded her marketing firm, she’d attend four to seven networking events in a single week. Don’t burn yourself out, though. “The key is to push yourself until you start seeing some results. After a while, you’ll figure out what is working for you,” says Fredrickson.
10. Use social media.
Join Facebook groups related to your industry and engage in online conversations, says copywriter Beth Anne Ball. “You’ll have friends waiting to meet you before you even make it to an event,” she says. Update your LinkedIn profile and Twitter account and join Nextdoor.com, a neighborhood-specific online social network.
11. Serve on the board of a nonprofit.
Norris met some of his favorite business contacts while sitting on nonprofit boards.”When you work hard, professionals notice, especially when they too care about something you’re involved in together,” he says.
12. Find activities you enjoy.
Get out and do something fun, recommends small business coach Jennifer Martin. “Business people are everywhere, from book clubs to hiking groups, to the gym,” she says. Can’t find a group that suits you? Create your own and take it from there.