Many of us have made major changes to our lives, routines and work in the past three years, including moving to new locations. According to the USPS, more than 15.9 million people filed change of address requests in the first six months of the pandemic in 2020. It wasn’t just the pandemic that spurred moves — 32 percent of Americans cited being closer to family as the reason they moved in 2021.
3 Ways a Network Can Help You in a New Community
- You can find all kinds of resources, from doctors to tutors to piano teachers, for you and your loved ones.
- It can help build credibility and support for when you need it.
- Connecting with like-minded people can boost confidence and inspire new ideas.
As exciting as it is, changing locations can also cause anxiety. In fact, a survey of those who have moved found that 64 percent said their move was one of the most stressful things they’ve ever experienced.
Once you’ve completed a major move, it’s easy to feel misplaced, uncertain and a bit lonely once the excitement has faded. You might find yourself wondering if you’ve made a huge mistake, especially as homesickness inevitably kicks in.
No matter the reason for your move, building a new professional network will help you to feel a sense of belonging in your new home. Even if you’re not currently seeking a new gig, having strong professional relationships will pay dividends if you ever decide to seek a new career opportunity, start your own business or want to contribute in a deeper way to your new hometown.
As someone who’s done it, and has helped many others who have moved from destinations ranging from Los Angeles to London, I can recommend a few ideas for finding and connecting with like-minded colleagues, compatriots and community, leaving you feeling more at home and more excited for this next chapter in your career and your life.
Personalize Your Approach
New arrivals on our team took the old-fashioned but deeply effective approach of sending handwritten notes to community members they were interested in meeting. The Harvard Business Review noted that while the average corporate email account sends or receives more than 100 emails per day, and Americans between the ages of 18 to 29 send or receive nearly 100 texts per day, we typically only receive a handwritten letter once every two months.
If you want to make a good impression and get a meeting on the books, send a brief note introducing yourself and asking to connect.
Reconnect With Your School
When I relocated to Los Angeles early in my career, my college’s alumni and my Greek life alumni chapters provided an easy way for me to connect with a community where I had an existing rapport. Outside of connecting with fellow grads in your community, the benefits of joining the nearest chapter of your alumni network are numerous. Alumni associations frequently offer the opportunity to volunteer in your community, allowing you to give back and offer mentorship and support.
If you’re job hunting or looking for new hires, an alumni network is ideal, often hosting career fairs and offering job-search databases. Some alumni organizations even offer discounted tickets to sporting events, theater and speaking engagements, offering another great way to meet people and engage with your community.
Take a Class
Regular exercise helps reduce stress and anxiety. While many of us love the solo activity of running on a treadmill with a true crime podcast playing on our headphones, making new friends and connecting through wellness activities means going a little outside of that comfort zone and hitting up some classes.
Any class that suits your interests is a good place to start. Those who have made friends and connections while working out recommend intramural-style team sports like frisbee-golf, soccer, and softball; rock-climbing classes; yoga and pilates classes; and aerial and pole-dancing classes. Training groups in your community for long-distance running or cycling are also great options for meeting new people.
Don’t be afraid to be a newcomer. Go into a new class willing to learn, and ready to not take yourself too seriously. You will meet new people and you may discover a new passion.
When in doubt, get outside of your own head and look for a way to help others. A spirit of giving back and volunteering correlates with a longer life and contributes to other positive health outcomes, including mental and physical health, life satisfaction and social well-being.
No matter where you move, there’s likely no deficit of organizations that could benefit from your time, dedication, and service. Pick an organization to volunteer for based on your passions and your skills. If you are interested in supporting literacy, volunteer to read to kids at your local library or support literacy initiatives. Are you great at fundraising and engaging sponsors? Organizations like the American Cancer Society host events that need enthusiastic and organized leaders to garner support from local businesses and corral donations. Love pets? Local animal shelters need caring dog- and pet-lovers to clean up, host adoption drives and foster animals in their homes while those animals wait to be adopted.
Leave Your House
The comfort of Netflix and chill is inviting, but will, over the long term, drag you down. A school of thought indicates that sitting is the new smoking, which seems to correlate more with the side effects of watching too much television — being sedentary, not getting outside and not interacting with the general public — rather than watching television itself.
However, the more time you spend alone, the more time you will spend alone. So take it outside. Go sit in a coffee shop for a few hours (and be a good guest: buy a cup of coffee or tea) and work there, rather than in your house. I have stickers on my laptop that, due to curious passersby, have resulted in more connections that I can count. Maybe your company baseball hat, or your vintage AC/DC t-shirt or your super-cool kicks will start a serendipitous discussion that will lead you on a new and unexpected adventure.
One friend of mine, while standing in line at a book signing, joked that he wanted the author to hire him — and ended up working as his assistant for three years. I can promise this wouldn’t have happened if he spent the evening binge-watching Saved by the Bell. Leaving your couch and experiencing the world will open you up to the unique possibilities that surround you.
Put Yourself Out There
All this advice has one thing in common: Stepping out of your comfort zone to rebuild the relationships you might have taken for granted in your former home. The process of finding a new network of supporters, contacts, and trusted colleagues is overwhelming, but it can be done one step at a time, and you should enjoy every part of the journey.