It’s been almost 8 months since the sunny Saturday morning at 4 a.m. when I set down the old town road to Sydney. If only I had a horse…
For those of you who don’t know, I moved to Sydney for a new career opportunity, putting the last semester of my undergrad degree on hold, leaving my role at The Content Division and the Apple Store.
This opportunity came as an unexpected surprise, and maybe that is what made it easier to pickup my life and move 12 hours away from my hometown with just a few weeks notice.
I want to use this platform as a way to keep a record of all the things I will do over the next year living and working here. What do the kids say these days, “pics or didn’t happen?”
First I want to talk about how moving to a new city may seem scary, I mean ‘what if you don’t have any friends,’ ‘how can I possibly meet new people as an adult,’ ‘I don’t want to be alone on the weekends!’ Well sometimes I do want to be alone on the weekends and watch Netflix but most of the time we crave human connection and moving somewhere new just gives us the chance to make new ones, and really, what have you got to lose?
New city, who dis?
The first few weeks in my new workplace, people would ask me “are you making new friends?” and most of the time I would chuckle and think to myself, how can you really make new friends as an adult outside of uni? We don’t realise how good we have it at uni until we leave. It poses such a unique environment where the opportunities to networking and making friends are all around us, everything from clubs and societies to people at the uni bar. I kind of miss it, especially since the closest friendships I have made in then last few years have been from the confines of university.
But I knew if I wanted to make the most of living in a new city and beginning a new chapter of my life, I had to put myself out there and meet people the old fashioned way. So some of the biggest tips I have for people when you move somewhere new is to have a mindset of being open to new people and different opinions, often the people we meet at uni connect to use with shared experience and interests, when you meet people in “the wild” there’s not guarantee of an instant connection like that. This means I always try to embrace the opportunity to learn something about an industry I didn’t know much about, or someones hometown where I’ve never been. When you actively seek to the understand the view of other people in the world, you start to feel more connected to the world and people love to talk about themselves, so you become someone who listens and makes friends more easily.
You have to be all in, all the time.
Adopt an ‘always on’ networking attitude (or don’t call it networking if that you’re not into that, try ‘how to not be alone on the weekends.’). What I mean by this is you have to always be on the lookout for ways to connect with people or continue to establish your new relationships. It’s easy to forget how often we have the opportunity to meet someone, it could be standing in line to get your lunch, looking for somewhere to sit to eat your lunch (eg. look for the other person trying to do the same thing!) or even making coffee in the office and someone walks in who you haven’t spoken to much before. When you have it in the back of your mind, you are more likely to treat every person like a new friend or a close colleague.
Where to find these mysterious groups of people who want to be your friend.
As to HOW to meet people, there are a few easy ways to start building your network.
First, look for networking groups in the area that are related to your interest (eg. for me, it was marketing) on sites like meetup.com search in Facebook for ” in for maybe you’ll get lucky like me and be added into a group because of past networking efforts! Quick story: I was first introduced to a marketing focus group of women that have moved to Sydney by someone I knew from my time in the USA on exchange, adding me to their Facebook group because they had seen a post from me that I was moving to Sydney! All of a sudden, in the first week of moving here, I went along to one of their monthly dinners and made an instant 6 new friends. Since then, I’ve been to another event with them and plan on going to more! There are many groups out there like this, especially ones that focus on industry specific which can sound super scary or just kinda cliche, but I was lucky to find a group of girls who meet up monthly to talk about work, living in Sydney and everything else. Almost in a funny way that made me appreciate my ‘always on’ networking attitude I was first introduced to this group by someone I knew from my time in the USA on exchange, adding me to their Facebook group because they had seen a post from me that I was moving to Sydney! All of a sudden, in the first week of moving to Sydney I went along to one of their monthly dinners and made 6 new friends. Since then, I’ve been to another event with them and plan on going to more! There are many groups out there like this, especially ones that focus on industry specific topics such as marketing, design, accounting etc.
Go to an event, yes even if you are alone.
Another way to meet new people is heading along to events. Whether it’s free, paid, you’re volunteering and its about marketing, accounting or food, I don’t care. Anything that will give you an ‘in’ to a new group of people is a yes from me. Some of the best advice I have ever received about these kind of events is that everyone there wants to meet you, if they didn’t why would they have come? Some good websites to get you started is eventbrite.com, LinkedIn.com and facebook.com.My advice is follow companies you are interested in on sites like LinkedIn.com and facebook.com as they often post when they have upcoming events that are open to the public. There’s also no harm in the old “marketing event Sydney” search in google.com to see what’s upcoming.
I went to my first event in Sydney with Interactive Minds a few weeks ago. My connection to this group was that I had volunteered for there events in Brisbane and so leveraged my contact with the company to get involved in their Sydney chapter. Volunteering for events is one of my favourite ways to stay connected to areas of your interest and you get to meet other volunteers who are likely looking to get the same things out of the experience as you – read: MAKING FRIENDS. I love marketing events because I get to stay informed on the latest industry news and trends, plus get to rub shoulders with managers, directors and interns in the industry (you never know when these contacts may come in handy…).
Never fear about going to something alone, I learnt this a few years ago and although I still get nervous going to events alone sometimes, it’s comforting to know that a lot of ofter people will also being heading in alone, and remember, they all want to meet you too! Set yourself a goal, make it easy, meet one or two new people and next time you got to the same event, you aren’t really going alone if you know someone there right!? Some of the best doors that have opened for me have bene because I went to something alone….shoutout to AMPed.
Your colleagues are always going to know more than you, give them the opportunity to prove it.
My last point is to go along to any and every gathering your work has. Although this is most effective in large companies where there will be new people to meet every time, the principle is the same for any workplace. You have to the network the hell out of your office because for most people, we will change jobs countless times and it’s not uncommon that a connection you had from your first internship or your third full time job, comes back to help you out, or you help someone else out (how fulfilling is that).
You’ll also start to realise that your colleagues know a hell of a lot more than you, regardless of what your job title is. You can learn from everyone in the world, and you are a unique position when you have access to people who work in your company, your industry right next to your desk? It’s like a free networking event that you get to go to every day. Don’t waste the chance to meet your next mentor, new Instagram follower or lunch buddy.
I met someone new at work the other week, and he told me how each week he tries to explore a new floor or revisit a floor he hasn’t been to in a while. He would wander up with a package or a letter in hand, as if for offical business, but rather use it as an excuse to explore and meet new people plus further nurse existing relationships. I felt underdeveloped after hearing that so I made it my new goal to meet one new person a week in the office and go explore a new floor per fortnight, (progress update: many coffee colleague dates and some more exploring that needs to be done). But now I feel like I can walk the hallway and say hi to someone instead of the awkward silence in the elevator.
Bill Nye said it best, “everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” How about you discover something new this week?
Next up: music wrap-up, all the live music events I’ve attended this year.