Moved to a new city recently? Making new connections — and friends — can be difficult. These tips will make it easier.
Moving to a new city feels like starting over completely. You’ve left everything — including your network — behind, and it’s overwhelming to think that you need to begin again.
But meeting new contacts doesn’t have to be a painful process. Use the following tips and you’ll be on your way to a making your new city feel like home.
Represent your alma mater
People tend to be nostalgic about their college years, and meeting alumni from your school is a great starting point. Wear your college colors and gear at networking events or work. Fellow alums will notice. This gives you an instant connection with someone and easy way to break the ice.
People are interested in meeting people who have a shared experience. (Click here to share this week.) You don’t have to be decked out, but try throwing on a baseball cap or piece of jewelry. Keep in mind this is a great way to make friends too.
Brainstorm better questions
Before you attempt to network, think of questions for contacts that aren’t typical or run-of-the-mill. Think about what you want to know. It’s OK to ask questions like “Where did you grow up?” or “How long have you lived here?” but they’re boring and don’t reveal much.
Instead, ask questions that’ll reveal something new and interesting. For example, instead of “What do you do?” ask, “What do you like about what you do?” Not only is this more involved, but it’ll also allow the person to talk about their favorite aspect of work rather than listing off responsibilities.
Learn how to catch a softball
If the thought of walking into a room full of strangers and talking to people makes you nervous, try an activity like intramural sports. Most cities offer leagues at varying skill levels, and these leagues provide a booming social scene. You can sign up as an individual and be matched to a team.
Look for a sport that seems like a good fit for you. Joining will provide an instant way to spark conversation. Not only will you meet a new group of people, but you’ll also make a different sort of connection than if you just meet someone once. You can also take advantage of post-game celebrations to get to know your teammates better.
Knock on your neighbors’ doors
You may think of your neighbors as the people you have to visit when they’re being too loud on a Tuesday night, but they’re actually a valuable part of your network. You never know who could be living next door. Taking time to form a community bond within your building or neighborhood is worth the effort.
Introduce yourself to your neighbors and let them know you’ve moved in. You’ll meet a few people who can give you some insight about your new city. After you get to know your neighbors better, they may have an established network they can introduce you to.
This is an easy step a lot people struggle with. Cities, even ones known for a sense of community like Seattle, have struggled with neighbors forming a bond. One quick knock can make all the difference.
Discover and read neighborhood blogs
Chances are your new city has a lot of cultural and community events going on you don’t even know about. Community events can be a great way to integrate into a new city and give you a feel for different areas and groups.
The best way to find out about these events is to check community blogs — like Popville, a neighborhood blog for Washington, D.C. Blogs can offer more information and tips about what to do than a calendar on the city website.
Spend some time looking around for the best options in your city. You may have to go through some trial and error, but you’ll eventually find a blog that fits your style. You can also ask your new neighbors about their favorite ways to find out what’s going on in the city or about their favorite festivals.
No matter how you choose to do it, the key is to meet as many different people as possible. Whether they’re alumni or the people down the street, the more people you meet, the more likely you are to meet someone you click with or who could be a good connection down the road.
Be open to all the possibilities and your new city will feel like home in no time.
Adam Levenson is the community manager for [email protected], the online MPA program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To learn more about Adam’s unique interests, visit the [email protected] blog or follow him on Twitter.