If you’re planning to relocate to another city, your jobs search complexity increases by a factor of five: distance, time, cost, market intelligence and the challenge of building a network long distance. Each of these factors makes it hard to be competitive in your new market; you may be thinking that networking is the hardest. There are some things you can do to start building your network from where you are.
First, set up your social media profiles and start building your virtual network. Recruiters are using social media more and more in their search for professional candidates, so having an online presence is no longer optional.
Start by putting a complete professional profile on LinkedIn. I’ve written about social media and your job search before. Your online “digital footprint” is your online brand. When people connect with you online, what do they see? If you’re just keeping up the basics, they see where you’ve worked and what pages you link to and keep up with. It should go without saying that those pages should represent professional interests and be family-friendly in their content.
Be sure you include your objective in your profile, and that you include your new target city in your profile “headline” or your interests and objective. If you are looking for opportunities to connect with people in your new city, say so. If you have a specific company or type of job in mind, let people know. You can also join groups and ask questions that might help you in your research on your new city and career.
Now that you’ve built a strong profile, you can start to link to professionals in your community. Start with people you know and work with, then expand your network to include people you’ve known and worked with in the past. You can do something in your virtual network that is impossible when you meet someone face-to-face: you can see their network of connections and past employment. By connecting with former acquaintances and coworkers, you can see where they are now and where they’ve been.
If you have a specific company in mind for your new career, look for connections in your current town with links to your target company. You can also start following companies you think might be target for your search. Each week, you’ll be able to see a summary of the hiring, departure and promotion activity at the company, and which people might be in your network. You have the opportunity to connect with those people through the site. LinkedIn says: “You’re 30 times more likely to get a response to an InMail [its internal message engine] than to a cold call. Why? Your profile is attached to your message; plus, it never ends up in a spam filter.”
It’s true that when people can be reminded of who you are (if they have met you) or see your profile (if you’re a stranger) they will be more likely to take your call or agree to a meeting. It’s like Caller ID; they can decide to pick up the phone (metaphorically) knowing who is on the line and decide if this is a good time to connect with you.
Using this tool as a start for your networking helps overcome some of the barriers to moving to a new city – even one outside of the United States. Here’s what LinkedIn claims:
- LinkedIn has over 80 million members in over 200 countries.
- A new member joins LinkedIn approximately every second, and about half of our members are outside the U.S.
- Executives from all Fortune 500 companies are LinkedIn members.