Moving to a new city is an experience that's both exciting and nerve-wracking, and for entrepreneurs and working professionals it can be an even more taxing process. I recently experienced this firsthand when I moved down to Los Angeles from the Bay Area. When you work as hard as an entrepreneur does, it can be tough to find the time and energy required to meet like-minded individuals, especially if you're on the introverted side, as I am.
The answer to growing your network in a new city isn't always attending as many meetups as you possibly can. Here are five alternative ways to grow your network in a new city fast.
1. Attend semi-professional meetups as opposed to strictly professional ones.
Whether it's a happy hour for professionals in your area, a morning coffee meetup for local entrepreneurs, or something else entirely, attending a semi-professional meetup has proven successful for me relative to meetups meant strictly for business.
The main reason for this is the lack of pressure to force conversations with attendees like there is at networking events (which often devolve into a rat race to see who can get rid of their business cards fastest). In a more relaxed environment, you can get to know people as they really are and show them your authentic, shameless self. Remember, people like doing business with other people, not robots.
2. Use apps like Bumble Bizz or Shapr.
Much like Tinder is for the dating world, Bumble Bizz and Shapr allow you to meet and connect with individuals on a professional basis. Start swiping and you just might find your next co-founder, an eager investor, or a solid addition to your professional network.
3. Join a co-working space, even if you have your own office.
When you hear the term "co-working space," you may think the only people who are members are early-stage startups out of college or solopreneurs who got tired of fighting for outlets at Starbucks. While there are plenty of both at co-working spaces, there are opportunities as well. Co-working spaces are full of ambitious individuals at various levels of success in their careers, and becoming a member can be transformative when it comes to connecting with entrepreneurs in your area.
At these spaces, you can brush shoulders with software engineers, freelancers, writers, startup founders, consultants, and more on a daily basis. This is why I recommended getting a membership to one even if you already have your own office as an entrepreneur. Instead of doing evening or weekend work at home in your pajamas, go to a local co-working space (the free coffee doesn't hurt either). With WeWork recently being valued at over $18 billion, the amount of spaces around the country and world is bound to increase.
4. Go narrow with your connections in the beginning.
Getting to know people in a new city has a snowball effect. In terms of connections, instead of going for numbers, first establish a deep connection with one or two individuals. Not only will this make your relationships with these people more authentic and long-lasting, it will also give you another person who you can go to events with, making it easier to talk to other attendees than it would be if you went solo.
5. Start your own meetup.
If you can't find a house to your liking, build your own house. By starting a meetup of your own, you'll be able to be in full control of who you associate with. Sign up for a platform like Meetup.com to get started. You can also create your own Facebook Group and schedule your meetups there. I found one of the most valuable contacts I've made in Los Angeles thus far inside a Facebook Group for tech enthusiasts, and the other connection in the meetup I created myself.
As an entrepreneur, your network is paramount to your success, and moving to a new place can feel like you've taken a few steps back. By following the tips laid out in this article on top of venturing out of your comfort zone by being proactive with relationship building, you'll have a top-tier circle of friends in no time. Best of luck.