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How to network to find a job in a different city

by THEA kelley | February 29, 2024

Want to move, but need to secure a job first? Employers tend to be leery of hiring from out of the area, but networking can open doors. How can you network in a different city or state where you don’t know people?

Read on. I’m going to tell you how to build, even across the distance, a referral network–people who know a bit about you and may, later or sooner, help you get interviews. A candidate who is referred in this way usually has an advantage over one who applied “cold” to a job posting.

As a side benefit, networking activities can help you learn about the area before you commit.

Job search networking begins in your hometown.

You may not know anyone in San Jose, Austin, or New York, but maybe you know people who do. Start with your friends. Ask them if they know anyone in your target area who they could introduce you to – whether those people are in your line of work or not.

After all, you’re also looking for general information: what it’s like living there, better and worse neighborhoods and so on. Those topics are great for starting conversations, which can segue into asking whether they know anyone who does work similar to you, or anyone who works at certain companies you’re interested in.

Now search online. Here’s where LinkedIn gets really handy.

Your friends may not be able to tell you offhand who they know in another city, so go to their LinkedIn profile and click the blue “(number) connections” link below their name, near the top of the profile. You now have the ability to search through your friend’s contacts, and can approach him or her to ask whether certain introductions would be appropriate. (If this number is not a link, it means your contact has disabled this feature in their settings.)

Of course, you can also use LinkedIn to directly search for LinkedIn groups and people in your target area. Type the city into the search field, then click “See all results” under that. From there you can click the Groups or People buttons and explore! Click the “All filters” button if you want to narrow your search, for example, to find people you have more in common with, such as fellow alumni.

Here’s how I found good contacts in a randomly chosen city – in less than three minutes.

As a test, I decided to see who I could network with in New York, a city where I’ve never lived. Using the steps in the previous paragraph, I ended up with a list including several fellow alumni of my alma mater Cal State Northridge, along with many other New Yorkers with whom I share connections. Perusing the list, I saw one person who works as a recruiter and knows one of my fellow career coaches, Tom, with whom I have a friendly relationship. And lo and behold, Tom also lives in the Big Apple – a fact I’d never noticed before.

I only spent two or three minutes coming up with those results. By experimenting with different search criteria to represent other factors we might have in common, I could find still more. If I were looking for a job in NYC, I could then build a relationship with some of these folks on social media and through informational interviews.

Attend an industry event.

Why not attend an industry event in your target location? To get the most value from your travel costs, arrange some coffee dates with local people at the same time.

Look for companies and organizations with locations in both cities.

Some of your target companies in that new city may also have an office in your hometown. Network with the locals and seek introductions to staff members in the other city.

Think about any organizations you already belong to that might have branches in both cities. This could include professional associations, alumni groups, religious organizations or charities you volunteer with. This can be a very effective way to get introduced to people in the new city.

Use these networking experiences to demonstrate your commitment to relocating.

In cover letters and interviews, mention the steps you’ve taken to build a network and find employment in the new city. Recruiters will see the time and effort you’ve invested as a sign that you’re not a “flight risk,” a prospective employee who might quit the job after a short time and go back home. That all-too-commmon scenario is costly to employers, so they like to see you’re serious about working and living in the area for a long time.

Don’t forget to make your resume relocation-friendly, and consider developing a networking bio as well.

Networking to find a job in a different city may be more do-able than you thought. You might even find it to be an interesting adventure in itself!  (This post was originally published in 2021 and has been updated.)


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