Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How to Develop a Network in a New City

As someone who recently traversed the continent to explore job opportunities in Los Angeles (LA) in a limited period of only two weeks, I feel that I am qualified to provide advice on networking in a new city. This is my ultimate how-to guide for building a network in a new city, with explanations as to how I did it.

Reconnect With Friends
I am a fearless communicator who is not afraid to contact someone from my distant past. Before my trip to LA, I contacted everyone I knew in the area, including a previous colleague, college friends, high school friends, friends of friends, etc. In general, people are more than happy to help you in navigating the new city. An added bonus is that some of these friends can provide you with career advice or connections!

Do Your Homework
I did not just want to see friends, as it was important during my trip to focus on my job hunt. I was lucky enough to connect with someone in LA beforehand who could introduce me to individuals who I could meet with once I arrived. Since I knew I would be meeting them soon, I was able to review their LinkedIn profiles and learn about them before arriving in LA. I also reconnected with business contacts who I had met previously in Montreal.

Find Events in the Area
This was probably the most important aspect of my trip. Since I am interested in women's issues, startups, tech, and social media, I actively sought events that focused on these topics. To find events, I used the searches on Eventbrite and Meetup, asked my friends, and even just Googled "free Los Angeles" plus the specific date I was looking to schedule for. By using this technique, I discovered and attended the following events, in chronological order:

Me and Celia Ward-Wallace, organizer of the Empowering Women Every Day Happy Hour

MBA Women Connect - Santa Monica

Yes, it was exhausting, but I needed to maximize the success of my trip by meeting as many people as possible. Importantly, these were people with common interests, so I was already placing myself in an effective environment.

Have Fun
It is hard to believe, but I also managed to fit in activities that were not career-related. I spent a day on the set of Glee, went to two comedy shows, walked along the beach, etc. This downtime was critical in giving me a bit of a break in my busy schedule and helping me to gather my thoughts and relax. It also gave me something else to talk about with people besides my job search!

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