Networking in a New City

I don’t get a lot of questions so when I do, I’m super excited to answer them! This week I got a question from a new Instafriend who asked about making friends and networking for your business when you move to a new city.

To start, I should let you know that I’m a huge community gal. I love serving my community and being a part of groups in Phoenix. This wasn’t true of me three years ago so even if you’re not a community type, I hope I can inspire some curiosity through this article which might later lead to you being a community type! We are mainly going to cover how to find a community and then how to establish yourself as a valuable member of your community.

Networking in a new City Denise Karis Blog

1.) Find a Rising Tide chapter
The Rising Tide Society is a group of people who believe in Community Over Competition and that a Rising tide lifts all boats. Finding a strong community is just as valuable as finding all those new clients you need and the Rising Tide Society is the perfect place to start!

The chapters usually meet once a month on a Tuesday at meetings called “Tuesdays Together.” To find a chapter, click here.¬† If you don’t have a chapter in your area, see if you can start one!! With all the small business owners out there, your area definitely needs one and what better way to meet people than to start up a Tuesdays Together of your own?

If you’re a wedding professional, another great community to look up is Wipa. I’ve been a Wipa member for four years and I love the friends I’ve made there!

2.) Show up!
Find and follow all those Girl Boss groups and Instagram accounts. I used to avoid those groups and I’m not sure why because they’re absolutely fabulous. Maybe it was because I didn’t want to give up my evenings of Netflix and pajamas, but this fall I decided to say yes to more things. Almost immediately after making this decision someone messaged me on Instagram asking if I’d be interested in going to her Girl Boss meetup and I said yes. I went convinced I wouldn’t meet anyone and would just look super awkward standing by the cheese and crackers table. I ended up meeting one person who gave me an idea for an awesome project which led to another awesome project which connected me to someone at a business I had been trying to connect with for a really long time. You don’t always know what’s going to happen at these events. Sometimes you go home and think, “Well that was a bust.” But really, following those tiny bread crumbs always leads to something.

Another note on this one, sometimes people need to just see your face. Then they’ll see your face at another event and remember you… and the next one they’ll introduce themselves. Go to networking events just to become a recognizable face. Be someone who shows up.

Networking in a new City Denise Karis Blog

3.) Contribute to the communities you find.
Once you show up a few times to a group event, think of something that could make it better. Then do that thing! That’s the important part… the follow through. Approach the leader or organizer and ask if you could contribute to the next event by [fill in the blank]. This is a good lead to another article called “How to land your next collaboration.” Helping someone else build their dreams is the best way to get a YES on a collaboration idea. Designing the idea to also indirectly serve you and build your dreams too is the key to a great collaboration. And if you’re thinking, “Dude, I don’t know what they need or what I could contribute,” I’d say that’s just because you haven’t gone yet! Go to 2-3 meet ups of a local group and be aware. What would make it better, more enjoyable, more valuable, more likely to be talked about on Instagram? Maybe it’s something like starting a Secret Santa or Gift Swap. Maybe it’s organizing everyone to have an accountability buddy each month. Or maybe it’s just a simple giveaway of your products…which leads me to number four…

4. Become a gift giver.
If you’ve known me or followed my Insta or blog, you’ll know I’m a total gift giver. I love giving gifts. Gift giving is all about making people feel seen and heard. It’s about making them feel cared about and making their life easier or more enjoyable. Getting into a gift giver mentality helps you be more aware of the wants and needs of others which is a GREAT business mindset too!! It awakens those channels in your brain having to do with empathy and self awareness.

So to get into a gift giving mentality, listen when people start sentences with, “You know what would be awesome?” or “You know what we should do?” Or when their eyes widen and they say, “I LOOOOVE [Dutch coffee/ watercolor art / cactus / etc ]” People will tell you what they like and what they’re passionate about. It doesn’t have to be an expensive gift with a big red bow. It can be an experience. You can pass on an old book off your shelf that you think might help someone through a problem they confided in you. You can leave a podcast review when someone admits they’re insecure about their new podcast. (YES, that counts as a gift!)

About a year before I left my day job, I had two of my departments close which forced me back to the department I had started in. It was rough. Day one we went around on our team to introduce ourselves. We said our names, our favorite animal and how long we had been with the company. Of about fifteen people, only three had been there longer than a year and even then I think the longest was three years. Then it came around to me and I had been there eight years. The room literally gasped.

I think I cried every day in my car for the first week. I couldn’t believe that after eight years I was back at square one. As I would read through our daily group chat, I found that most of my teammates struggled in the same areas I had when I first started. It was a customer service based job so there was a lot of stress and some days were just soul crushing. So I decided I was going to cultivate community on my team so that they felt like they could lean on me when they needed to. I started finding out everyone’s coffee drink. I made friends with the barista at the little coffee shop and when someone was having a bad day, I would go get them their coffee and set it on their desk. It wasn’t expensive. It wasn’t elaborate. It didn’t take a lot of effort but when I was ready to leave, my teammates supported me in the most incredible ways.

Have you ever had someone do that for you? They give you a small but meaningful no strings attached gesture and they instantly achieve a “they can do no wrong” status in your book? You’ll forever be in their corner because they were in yours first. Be in someone’s corner first! I definitely have people like that in my life and I know I’m that person for people in my community too.

Networking in a new City Denise Karis Blog

Show up, serve and contribute to your community.

This can be in a new town or wherever you’re at now. I’m excited for you to make your mark!

Denise Karis is an Arizona photographer who enjoys musicals, Doctor Who and breakfast burritos. IG @denisekaris

Special thanks to Annika Ibels, Meiying Ng, and Jessica Arends via Unsplash for the Pink City Photos!