Executives who want to move to a new geographical area sometimes complain that they don’t have any good contacts in the targeted area. They assume, therefore, that they don’t have a strong launch-pad for their job search and post-job-search career progress.
Sometimes their assumption is dead wrong. Often, though, it has at least some truth to it. However, the real issue is that they’ve waited until the last minute—or beyond—to build and nurture their network outside their current location.
LinkedIn essentially doesn’t recognize geographical boundaries, even international ones. If you’ve been operating on the basis of cultivating your more-or-less local connections and ignoring the broader potential reach of your LinkedIn network, you’ve made a big mistake. Support can come from many sources.
Fortunately, your mistake can be corrected.
Three Steps You Can Take to Strengthen Your Network Now
Of course, you can take actions to help you develop your network after you move—I’ll say more about that in a moment. However, a much more effective method is to adopt a longer-range approach to a planned or potential move. Steps you can take include the following:
- Start now—move or no move. Even if you don’t anticipate a move in the foreseeable future, take action to develop more of a relationship with your key LinkedIn connections, regardless of their location. You never know when that might pay off.
- Focus on potentially desirable locations. Begin looking at areas where you might want to live and work, whether it’s a case of “maybe someday” or “that’s where I want to be in a year.” Research your connections that currently live and/or work in those areas and reach out to them for insights on what it’s like there.
- Start a meaningful dialog. Find out if any of your connections have made a major relocation and what they found most helpful in their planning—or in a hindsight assessment of what they wished they’d done differently! Engage in ongoing, but not overly frequent, communication to strengthen your relationship with them. Remember to make it a two-way street, though. Give as well as get.
When the Move is Already Immanent
Okay, so you didn’t do the advance prep work that would have smoothed the path for you. You landed a job anyway, but now you’re facing a move with no active network of connections at the end of it. Does that mean you’re doomed to a drawn-out struggle to establish yourself and build a strong network in your new location?
Only if you sit on your hands and wait for it to happen! You have several actions you can take, even at this late stage. For example, you can:
- Do a crash-course investigation. Search your LinkedIn network for connections in the area you’ll be moving to. If your network includes people in or associated with the company you’ll be working for, tap into their expertise ASAP. Find out about things you can do before the move to smooth your path on the other end, personally as well as professionally.
- Check out resources you’re already using or plan to use. For instance, if you bought a house in your new area, what can your realtor do for you besides complete the purchase? He or she might very well have ties with people and organizations throughout the area that could be beneficial to you—business networking groups, social or civic organizations, and so on.
- Plan to get yourself “out there” right away. Build in some time to do on-the-ground exploration and investigation of possibilities in your new location as soon as possible after the move. Remember that you’ll probably be up to your neck in responsibilities with your new job quickly, so this might not be easy, but it’s critical. If your responsibilities swallow up your time before you start looking around, you might wake up six months later and realize you still don’t have a locally strong network!
Building Your Relocation Network NOW, Not Later, is Desirable
However, if you didn’t do that, it’s not the end of the world. You might have made your task harder but not impossible. Act wisely and decisively, and you could be surprised at how well your efforts turn out—resulting in a healthy network both on LinkedIn and in your new, local environment!