After a previous post about how to network in with strangers at events, I received the following feedback: “Ah, the old myth that networking consists of meeting strangers. This is the least effective form of networking – most likely you'll never see these people again, and if you do they won't remember you” – which is so right, so I've written something new!
I thought it important to follow-up and include the second chapter to how to network when you move overseas but this time with how to meet people you may already know or be connected to in your city (in addition to everything I wrote in last week's post).
The premise behind meeting people you already know
When you move overseas there is a good chance that your family group and friendship networks have all been left behind. This is both exciting and daunting all at once, but it's important to remember that (especially nowadays) it's actually possible that you know more people in your new city than you thought.
When I moved overseas I had in my head that there was going to be no-one who knew anything about me but you quickly realize that the pieces quickly get put into place and before you know it you'll find that old networks re-appear.
Using social media to re-engage with people you know
I'm starting with this one because pulling the BAND-AID off is the easiest way to deal with something painful. Yes, there are lots of you who don't like social media but for finding long lost friends and connections, it's amazing. KEEP IN MIND that it's important what you post on social media doesn't jeopardize your chances with immigration. Be careful.
Pour yourself a glass of wine and jump online.
Finding old connections on Facebook
Even if you have a small network of friends, posting something publicly (change “to Friends” to the little Globe for “Everyone”) saying where you're moving is a great way to get started. It will let people know where you're headed and start a conversation with people who might know someone overseas. Respond to everything, reply to every comment, keep the conversation going, and your post will extend to your friends' friends and beyond! Even if someone comments that they're a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend and they are in the city you are moving to, that's a perfect way to start!
Update your Current location in your profile's “About” and be sure to fill in a few details where you can. Yes, you're feeding Facebook data but you're also making yourself visible to searches.
You can jump into the search functionality yourself at https://www.facebook.com/search/people/?q=josh%20pugh and see who you can find by limiting locations, looking through old networks and groups, and going on an adventure backwards through time.
Using LinkedIn to your benefit when connecting overseas
Professionals are always looking to connect on some level so update your location everywhere you see an option.
If you have a new job, be sure to add it, and make sure that everything about you is accurate with us much history as possible. Study information and previous work can connect you to people you may have forgotten about so they are priorities.
Just like Facebook, now post something about how you're moving and have some great new opportunities ahead. You may find someone who you worked with before or someone that's connected with your line of work who wants to reach out and has a mutual contact.
It's now time again for the search function and this is where LinkedIn really comes alive because generally, people keep their LinkedIn profiles up to date.
By going to https://www.linkedin.com/search/results/people/ you can start to filter down by your current location, and then things you may have in common. You can look for 2nd-degree connections and work out who you have in common for potential introductions. Personally, I think contacting your 1st-degree connection and speaking to them (instead of using LinkedIn's connection features) is a bit more effective and less clinical.
Even Twitter can help you connect with old new people
This one is a little more difficult but you can use search terms and hashtags to find people who might be taking part of current events or discussions in your neighborhood
How to connect to a network if you do know someone (anyone)
There'll be some people you knew from a a distant life who now live in the same city as you but who you may not have loved when you knew them before. Fight the urge to avoid them.
Every single offer to catch up and reconnect is completely worth it, and you never know if the other person might have changed or maybe you've changed more than you realize since seeing them last. (Or maybe they have a great group of friends now and you get along with some of them).
Any way into a group and having someone to catch up with on a weekend will make your transition to a new place infinitely easier.
You don't have to be friends forever, and you also don't need to churn through friends, you can engage with people short term and make wonderful connections with them!
Utilizing Alumni Groups to connect with your new community
For some, if you graduated from a school or university with an international presence, there is a benefit to reaching out to that group.
In many cases, you may be able to strike up friendships from long ago who will at least give you something to talk about in the awkward few minutes after the regular questions of “So why did you move to X?”.
Get onto the newsletter, get in touch, and see what you might be able to do. Lots of institutions keep records of where their alumni groups are and can be very helpful.
The Secret Sauce to meeting people in a new city
The secret to all of this? Never say “no” to anything or anyone.
Everything is worth one coffee, one beer, one dinner, or one wall-climbing-adventure. If the worst thing that could happen is you losing an evening of sitting and watching the Parks & Rec again, then it's not so bad (despite how good Parks & Rec really is).