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What is the one thing that is scarier than leaving college to start your first job? How about leaving college, starting your first job, AND moving to a new city!

Yet every year, thousands of college grads do just that. Data collected by the Career Center’s Post-Graduate Survey suggests that nearly 40% of UGA’s Class of 2013 relocated outside of Georgia for their first job. The destinations ranged widely, including relatively nearby cities like Nashville or Birmingham, as well as more far-away destinations like New York, Chicago, or San Francisco. Some graduates even landed jobs in other nations around the world.

Sometimes finding yourself in an unfamiliar place can be stressful and lonely, especially after the close-knit community lifestyle of college. How can you jumpstart your network and begin making new connections?

Here are a few great ways to get started:

Say “Yes” to New Opportunities

One of the first things that you can do when relocating to a new place is to adopt a “Yes” mentality. When you are presented with an opportunity that may lead to new connections – just say yes!

As an introvert, this concept helped me tremendously when I made my first career move to Athens. I’ve never been very good at small talk and I don’t usually like social gatherings where I don’t know anyone. The “Yes” mindset was crucial to helping me counter these weaknesses. Although there were definitely times when I wanted to decline invitations to community events, dinner parties, or happy hours, I gave myself a little extra push that was necessary to overcome my fears. Now those one-time strangers are some of my best friends – all because I opened myself up to new opportunities!

Tap Into Technology

In the world we live in today, there are few aspects of life that are not affected by technology – and networking is no different. Think about all of the different social platforms that you could potentially use to learn about community events and connect with your tribe. Here are some examples:

  • Facebook: Do some basic research to see if your neighborhood has any type of “Young Professionals” group, or other groups/clubs based on your interests. If you play around with the search parameters, you are likely to find at least 1 or 2. You might also “Like” or “Follow” local businesses that you connect with – they may advertise events that would be a great meeting place for others with similar tastes and interests!
  • LinkedIn: LinkedIn has a very easy to use alumni tool that you can use to identify any alumni connections in your community. Take a look and see what you find. Set a goal for yourself to reach out to at least 10 new people every month, and also use LinkedIn to help keep track of new connections (this can be less awkward than Facebook if you’ve just met). You should also do a search for any related professional groups – the UGA Alumni Association, for example, has a chapter (and a corresponding LinkedIn page) for many cities, including the ones listed above!
  • MeetUp.com: This is another great platform for bringing together folks with similar interests, whether that is something broad (like “Young Professionals of Nashville”) or something incredibly specific (like “Russian History Book Club of New York”).

Volunteer or Get Involved

Lastly, consider any steps you can take to get more involved in the community and tap into the many networks that already exist. Examples include community service events (I’ve volunteered at the Classic City Brew Fest the past three years!) as well as organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce or the Rotary Club. A simple Google search will reveal a number of options – and you can also check out local classifieds or community bulletin boards to find more.

At the end of the day, the bottom line is that you just have to put yourself out there. Moving to a new place can be lonely and frightening, but you won’t ever be able to overcome those feelings if you spend all of your time on your sofa in front of the TV. So go on, put yourself out there….your new friends are waiting to meet you!

-Posted by Andrew Crain, UGA Career Consultant