At this point in my life I have had the incredible opportunity to experience moving, twice, on my own, to a completely foreign environment where I didn’t know many people. I’ve also had the amazing experience of traveling by myself through foreign countries where I didn’t know the culture or language, much less the people that lived there. These experiences have given me a unique perspective that I would like to share with thousands of other twenty-somethings that inevitably move away from home. Make the most of your experience!
Get Uncomfortable – Get Connected – Be an Extrovert (Or Pretend to Be)
When I moved from my native state of Florida to Scottsdale, Arizona, I knew fewer people than I could count on one hand. On top of that, my profession required me to travel every other week and I didn’t have any coworkers in Scottsdale to speak of. This presented me with a unique challenge that I had not experienced since moving away to college. I had to completely reconstruct a personal and professional network without the solid foundation that I had developed in my home state.
Faced with this unique opportunity, I decided to join a young professionals group called GET Phoenix Young Professionals. This was an organization that my Mom found on Facebook and encouraged me to check out. Fate would have it that I discovered a group of genuine and motivated peers who were an indispensable influence during my time in Arizona. I was able to plug-in to the local young professional network that was lacking in my profession. GET Phoenix hosts an event every month in the greater Phoenix area and provides not only networking but also professional development for its members and charitable contributions to the community.
The moral of the story is to make connections. Today, there are amazing sites like MeetUp.com that allow people to connect with other like-minded people when they move to a new city. In fact, I see a prime opportunity for even more value and business creation in that space as the economy builds and young people increasingly move to new cities. After all, you and your BFF were complete strangers the day before you met each other. If you have a similar idea on that subject, feel free to hit me up.
Explore Your New Stomping Ground
When you arrive to a brand new city that you are going to make your home, it is easy to feel like an outsider at first. I mean, you literally don’t even know where to get your haircut, much less where the hot spots are in town. As time goes on, these things naturally become evident. However, both times that I changed cities, I made sure to drive around a bit at first and see what caught my eye. Drive, take the bus, ride a bike or walk around and just observe where different types of people gravitate. This seems like something most people would do naturally, but if you don’t make it a priority, 3 months will go by without you actually exploring because that’s life. Try not to be shy and ask local establishments what type of crowd they usually attract and when. I am currently in the process of exploring Southern California, as I recently moved across the border from Arizona to the great state of California. I’ve made it a point to cover a ton of ground in the 30 days that I have been here. As you meet people you will naturally learn of new cool places to check out, but you can also cover a lot more ground, quicker, by yourself.
Grow Up and Honor Your Word
So this can be the hardest thing about moving after college or even just transitioning to being a “real” adult. It’s no secret that my generation has been labeled as lazy and entitled. What previous generations will not admit is that they shifted the economy and society to foster the exact traits their children are now exhibiting. I’m not using any excuses, simply elaborating on the bigger picture and agreeing that good ole fashioned work-ethic is in less supply than in previous eras for multiple reasons.
True to the stereotype, I found it harder than expected to “grow-up” after school due to a lack of sustainable work ethic and commitment to obligations. In college, saying you will go to lunch with a friend and then backing out the hour before is not that uncommon. The same action in the professional world can ruin a business relationship forever. Luckily, I have learned this lesson quickly and molded my character accordingly. I never used to fully understand what “old” people were talking about when they told me “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Well, now I feel like I can grasp the concept better than ever. Here it is:
- Business involves money.
- People spend money with people they trust, unless forced otherwise.
- People trust those who make a great first impression, are likeable, and prove over time to be competent and consistent.
Making a good impression and being likeable can be accomplished with some natural talent in your first meeting with a stranger. Proving competency and consistency cannot be done instantly. In order to prove to another person that you are trustworthy over an extended period of time, you have to do one very simple yet challenging thing: honor your word. If you’re lucky you learned this a long time ago – if not, now it’s time.
Moving to a new city is an exciting, nerve-wracking experience that takes courage. By putting some planning and effort into the endeavor, you can proactively manage the transition rather than simply reacting to what happens naturally. The only thing that guaranteed in life is change, so make the most of it!