I recently graduated college and moved back to my hometown of Denver, Colorado.
Denver is an amazing city, and I’ve lived here since I was young. But I quickly realized it isn’t nearly as easy to make new friends and professional connections in the ‘real world,’ without constantly going to events and meeting people in classes and through extracurriculars.
This has to be even harder if you’re moving to a new city and truly don’t know a soul. Though of course, some of us have done it before. And we’ve made the best of it.
I asked the Next Gen Community, “What are your best tips and tricks for forging friendships and professional connections?” Boy, our members had quite an array of responses – talk about people that could make friends anywhere they are planted. And, these suggestions can apply no matter if you’re new to your city or not – they’re simply great tips for expanding your local connections and establishing yourself as a leader in your city.
Recommended by Ajay Mittal, meetup.com helps you connect with others in your area based on activities. From learning to cook to training for a marathon, you can join groups of local people with similar ambitions and interests. Explore by category such as ‘wellness,’ ‘photography,’ or ‘food and drink,’ join existing groups (such as Tappy Dance Tap Dancing – all levels welcome!), or even start your own. Truly, this gem of a website already has me feeling more looped into my local community already.
Bonus tip: For sustainable connections, Jon Fox encourages readers to tap into social activism groups so you know you share the same values as the people you’re meeting. Nothing bonds a group of people like fighting for the same cause.
Aside from meetup.com, there are a number of apps that also focus on in-person networking that Katherine Cooley shared. Bumble Bizz is a popular one. A variation of the popular dating app Bumble, Bumble Bizz is just what it sounds like: an app to expand your professional connections.
Another great app is Shapr, which is a similar ‘swipe left / right’ app like Bumble, and lists the professional areas that matter the most to you at the top of your profile, while showing you people you’re most likely to hit it off with.
Zak Slayback is a Next Gen member known for reverse engineering more effective methods of getting things done (and has actually written an article about this very topic). He recommends asking podcast hosts who they know in the area. Think about it; podcast hosts have interviewed guests from all over and likely know who’s who, and who’s where. It’s always a safe bet to ask people who have to connect with a multitude of people daily – their networks expand extensively!
It’s key to put yourself out there and not only attend events, but get exposure at them. Mir Olatunji believes wholeheartedly in this method, as it’s how she’s made new connections in Boston, where she’s moving to begin college. She’s already scored three speaking gigs. I have to agree with her advice; after I speak at an event, I notice how many people come up to talk to me, which makes networking that much easier.
Here’s an idea Quin Weidner urged: host your own event! You’ll get exposure simply by spreading the word. “You’ll meet people as you make it happen – but in a productive setting rather than social. Each interaction during the organization and at the actual event will be much better than the usual cold-contact you get at any random event,” Quin elaborated. Post in location-based Facebook groups (as recommended by Shriya Nevatia) to get the word out and meet even more locals.
Kyle Herron knows the power of Next Gen; posting in an online community with thousands of like-minded individuals is key to forging new friendships and connections regardless of where you’re based. Chances are, someone in the group is located near your new home, or knows someone who is. Take advantage of your online families.
Moving to a new city can feel intimidating or isolating, but with these tidbits of advice, you’ll be making friends and forging new connections in no time.