A while back, I penned a post about some of the challenges and counter strategies to implement when conducting a job search while living in another city/region. Most of us will experience a long distance job search at some point in our lives, so this topic hit home for many readers. Recently, I was asked about how to network when one is living in a different city/region.
Let’s start off by addressing the obvious, networking is easier and relationships will build much faster when one can hold face-to-face meetings with contacts. Being in the same city allows one to tap into existing friendships and circles of influence to jumpstart one’s networking efforts. So, if you are 1000 miles away, how do you network?
Although you may be two time zones away from the other person, start your networking attempts with individuals with whom you share a common thread. For example: alumni, professional associations, similar job function, etc. are some common threads one has with people in other cities and this connection could be used to start a conversation. Using sites like LinkedIn, an alumni directory, or professional groups are ways you can find individuals in other cities.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn allows you to create a free profile and join groups (alumni, professional, interest) to help you find others with whom you share a common thread. By searching LinkedIn for other career service professionals in higher education, I can identify several individuals with whom I would like to have a conversation. The trick is to find individuals with whom you share a common group, go to that group’s homepage and select the MEMBER link. This will allow you to search the group for the unique member, place your cursor over the member’s entry and the SEND A MESSAGE link will appear on the right hand side. This allows you to email the fellow LinkedIn user.
One can also try to find the individual’s email address online – some are easier to find than others.
Alumni Directory: In addition to the alumni groups on LinkedIn, most universities offer alumni a searchable online database of graduates. These systems can help you identify alumni in other cities with whom you could email to ask for a phone meeting. In addition to tapping the database, be sure to consider reaching out to fellow alumni who hold similar positions in other alumni clubs (ie: if you are the young alumni coordinator for your club, reach out to the young alumni coordinator in the other club). By reaching out to alumni who hold similar positions, you could end up providing help to the other individual (ideas, best practices, successful events, etc.) in addition to the help you receive in tapping into the new city.
Professional Groups/Similar Jobs: Reaching out to others in your target city who work in the same field/position can be another connection point. For example, if you are in HR Benefits at your current employer and you reach out to other Benefit Administrators in your target city, you may find out information about a local SHRM (Society for HR Management) chapter, a job listserv unique to that city, new employers who are moving into the area, those employers who have been hiring quite a bit and may need more help in onboarding the new employees, etc. And as I mentioned above, you may be able to share best practices and ideas with your contact to help them professionally. This makes the phone call a win for both individuals.
Now that we tackled who to reach out to, tomorrow we will tackle how to reach out to these long-distance contacts.