Community Immersion in 5 Simple Steps

Taking a leap and moving to a new city or state can be very intimidating and isolating. I have moved to a different state eight times in my life. Many of those times, I didn’t know a soul.  There is nothing lonelier than walking around a bustling city surrounded by people and feeling like you don’t exist.  

Out of habit (or necessity), I have developed a few simple steps to allow me to take immediate action after a recent relocation and avoid the blues.

1.  LIKE AND FOLLOW 
Before you move, search for your destination’s restaurants, sports teams, and cultural and arts organizations on Facebook and Twitter. Go on a LIKE spree.  Companies and nonprofits want to engage with their community and often post last-minute deals and contests.

On Twitter, you’ll discover local news, weather and government officials who use the platform to communicate important developments, storms, emergencies and local issues. Being informed can help you be ready for an evacuation or zombie attack, but also give you “conversation fuel” to interact with people you bump into at the coffee shop or bar. 

2. ONLINE GROUPS
Facebook is for friends. Even friends you don’t know yet. I joined “Denver 20s & 30s,” and within a week, there were already several offers to see the latest movie, a game night at a bar and proposals for hiking trips. These are genuinely good folks you might not find in your line of work. They are the unusual suspects and make your new circle of friends a little more diverse. 

Meetup is another great tool to find like-minded people.  From entrepreneurial leaders to classical music lovers to WordPress lessons to fetish and “alternative lifestyles,” this website has it all. People plan events and people show up. I recently attended an event for Upside Down Management, a group dedicated to exploring non-traditional management styles and changing the corporate business structure in Colorado. Why not? I met several great guys, all from different backgrounds, sharing ideas and knowledge. I left the meeting feeling connected, enlightened and improved. 

3. OFFER HELP
Volunteering is the best way to meet new people. It is apparent right away you are there to help and not be helped. A needy newcomer is annoying.  I wrote a blog to highlight and benefit a local nonprofit. I signed up to volunteer at the Denver Film Festival. I care deeply about the success of the arts in a community, and the quickest way to prove that fact is to help with no expectations. If you want the red carpet rolled out for you upon arrival, you are either famous and don’t need to read my blog OR you are suffering from delusions of grandeur. 

4. GET A LIBRARY CARD
You just moved. It’s expensive. Check out some free books or movies and save some dollar bills. Your mother would be proud. Also, the library has DVDs and books about your state, city or geographic area. Take two hours to learn your local history. An uninformed resident is acceptable for the first month or two. If you want to make business connections or relate to your neighbors, try your best to understand what is important to the people who live there and those who came before you. Knowledge is power, and you never know, it might just help you avoid an awkward situation. Insulting the locals isn’t a great first impression. 

FL LICENSE PLATE

5. SURRENDER YOUR PAST
This last step is the most spiritual I’ll get. When you leave a place, it isn’t always on good terms. Perhaps there was a painful relationship, a poisonous work environment or unfinished business. When you enter your new space, it is a perfect time to start over. Renew. You have to let go of the physical representations of your former life to healthily and aggressively pursue your future. It’s a pain in the butt, but get yourself to the DMV and get a new driver’s license, register your car, and get new license plates. Cut up those old “loyalty” cards to coffee shops you’ll never frequent again. Change your cell phone number to the local area code. Register to vote. Buy a baseball cap with the local team’s logo on it. 

This may all sound stupid, but I truly believe if I kept my Florida driver’s license, it would haunt me. Not only was it a horrible photo, but it says to people you haven’t committed to the change you chose. It’s going to dinner at a friend’s and using silverware you brought from home. It’s starting to date again, but keeping that Valentine’s Day card in your closet from a former lover.  Time to cut the cord! Release the past and embrace your new path. 

If you follow these 5 simple steps, I promise you will start to feel better about your new life, attract a positive group of friends and find yourself connected to the ground beneath you. Now, close your browser, turn off your computer and go explore! 

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