If you have recently moved to the area and you are either seeking employment or looking to further your career, the last advice you want to hear is to get out and begin to foster relationships with people you do not know, aka network. Yet that is exactly what you need to be spending the vast majority of your time and effort on. There is so much research out there claiming that the best strategy to find and build your career or business is to build connections with other people.
I got the pleasure of speaking with two gentlemen this week who have recently moved into the area. When I got into my ways-to-job-search spiel, their response was how can we meet people when we are new and don’t know anyone. The odd coincidence is that the majority of people here is not native and was at one time new to the area. This is not Charleston where you are a newcomer if you do not have generations of ancestors from the Holy City. Greenville’s citizens are very mobile and, with the movement of new companies into the area, newcomers are continually finding Woodruff Road for the first time.
I help facilitate a class of job seekers for Greenville County Workforce Development. In one class of eight adults, we encountered this very hurdle. We began to go around the room and found that only two of the people were originally from this area. This has become a regular activity and subsequent classes have usually shown the same results.
So Tim, what are some ways you would suggest that I use to meet other like-minded professionals?
There are a couple of ways that I would suggest that should work in any area you find yourself. First, I would look at social media. Facebook is a great avenue to connect with people and also to find where people of your interests are planning to meet. Downtown Greenville and City of Greenville are just two of many pages that can connect you to fellow enthusiasts.
LinkedIn can be used to find companies in the area. LI also has groups that are for this area: New Carolina, Greenville Area Development Corporation (great information on new companies and companies that are adding improvements in the area), Greenville Working, Today in Greenville, and …well, you get the idea. Groups enable you to see where they are meeting, what they are discussing and get involved in the discussions, and identify people you can contact to meet one-on-one.
Twitter is also a great way to follow companies and people and learn where they are planning an event. As you can see, these do not have to be exclusively business. Why do you think so many deals are done on the golf course?
Another suggestion is to see if there are any associations that meet in your area. The Kidder Group, Inc. has a great list on their website (http://www.thekiddergroup.com/images/t.jpg) of about seventy different groups and when and where they meet. Associations are one way to show your involvement within your profession and allow you to meet with and have a connection with people in your industry.
Another website that I am becoming more involved in is meetup.com. No, I am not having marital issues. This is a great website to publicize times and locations for gatherings with other people with your interests. Some of these are based on social as well as fitness interests.
The Newcomers Club of Greater Greenville’s main purpose is to welcome people who have recently moved into the area and to help smooth your transistion.
Most of the suggestions I have given you are free. But it still requires us to face two of our biggest fears: meeting new people and putting ourselves in unfamiliar situations. Both of these are tough for me. But you will find that unfamiliar situations begin to feel more familiar. And some of your best friends were once new.