Moving to a new city? Six reasons to network before you arrive

For most entrepreneurs planning a move, networking falls somewhere below “forward the mail” and “buy more bubble wrap” on their to-do list.

People often assume that the best time to meet local business owners and start building their customer base is immediately after they’ve settled into their new location, but my experience has taught me that connecting with people before you relocate is a great way to help your business grow. As an added bonus, getting a jumpstart on networking can also help ease your personal transition.

When I moved to Los Angeles to pursue work as a professional dancer, it was important for me to establish both personal and professional connections prior to relocating. My mother runs a dance studio in Salt Lake City, so I asked her to introduce me to her professional network in LA. I made a number of connections through phone calls and Skype meetings, and everyone I met was happy to answer my questions and make more introductions.

When I arrived in LA, I had already lined up a number of auditions and introductions with local agencies, and I had a solid group of professional and personal connections. Because I put effort into networking before I moved, my acclimation was much smoother.

Hit the Ground Running

For small business owners who are transferring operations to a new city, networking in advance provides many benefits. Making connections early can help you:

  • Establish yourself as proactive, strategic, and friendly. Connecting with local business owners before your move indicates that you are professional, open, and serious about forging strong business relationships.
  • Survey the scene. Networking helps you learn the competitive landscape in your new location and establish professional alliances with owners of complementary businesses that could add value to yours.
  • Learn about your new market. Advance research means you’ll come prepared to attract a customer base and adapt your business to fit your new clients’ specific demands, expectations, and budgets.
  • Quickly integrate your business. Establishing friendly professional relationships with local business owners and potential clients can help you start up quickly and avoid the sluggish sales numbers that sometimes come with relocating.
  • Hire the right people. Recruitment is tough for any business, and it’s even harder when you don’t know anyone in the area. If you need to hire employees for your new location, talking to local recruiters and business owners can help you figure out the most efficient way to staff your company and ensure a smooth transition.
  • Build new friendships. Beginning relationships with other business owners prior to your arrival means you can instantly connect with them after you move. Instead of spending those first few months feeling lonely and isolated, you can build a social circle before you arrive and feel at home right away.

Get Social Now

People are usually glad to share insider information about their city and make introductions for you. You just have to know where to look for your new circle.

Here are some suggestions for quickly building a network in your new city:

  • Get active on LinkedIn. Professional networks are the most obvious and useful tools for networking, but don’t be shy about introducing yourself. Join relevant LinkedIn Groups, including the regional chapters of professional associations in your industry. Start participating in discussions, post about your relocation, and broadcast your desire to connect with local businesses.
  • Search your university’s alumni database by city and industry, and try setting up informational interviews with local alums who work in your field.
  • Reach out to your existing personal and professional connections. Ask your friends, family members, and Facebook and Twitter followers to connect you with business owners or other interesting people you might want to meet in your new city.
  • Research and join local organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce and groups around your personal interests. Sign up for classes at a yoga studio in your new city, join a running group, or find get-togethers happening in your city on

It’s not always feasible to spend time in your new city before you relocate, but you can forge new connections by phone, email, Skype, and social networks while you’re preparing to make the move. When you sense chemistry with someone, set up a meeting over coffee to do some face-to-face connecting with your new acquaintances once you’ve settled in.

Networking might not be the first thing on your mind when you’re elbow-deep in packing tape, but establishing a network before you arrive can help you learn the ropes of your new city and get your business up and running quickly. With connections already in place, you can enjoy a smooth and successful transition and start discovering all the opportunities your new home has to offer.

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