You took the plunge and made the big move to Des Moines - congratulations! Even if you don't know anyone here yet, it doesn't mean you can't jump into the networking pool and start building strategic relationships. From industry-centric groups and associations to weekly wine tastings and farmer's markets, Des Moines (yes, Iowa) offers a wealth of possibilities when it comes to easy ways to meet the right people.
You're already brave enough to move someplace you don't know anyone, so you know you've got confidence. Use it to get out there and meet your future colleagues, mentors, clients, and friends. Take a deep breath, check out these tactical ideas to maximize networking in Des Moines, and start reaching out.
Do Online Networking Right
It's no secret online networking is one of the best ways to make connections, and you can start before you move. If you're still in the process of relocating, don't wait until you arrive in Des Moines to join local discussions and groups in your industry. Let people know you're coming and you might end up with a few meet-ups scheduled before you even hit the road.
If you're already in town, it's not too late to make those online connections. Search "Des Moines Chapter" for groups in your sector on Facebook and LinkedIn. Go ahead and join a few different groups and start participating in online discussions or reading posted articles. Get a feel for the different groups and then narrow down your involvement to those you find more engaging and beneficial.
Some of the greatest professional alliances are formed outside the boardroom. If you love Indian cooking or are an avid cyclist, find local groups dedicated to those interests. MeetUp is a great resource for finding like-minded people throughout the Des Moines area.
When making connections online, stay smart when it comes to what personal information you reveal online. You don't have to be paranoid, but don't give out too many specifics about where you'll be living/working, office hours, etc.
Check Out Local Calendars
You'll ultimately want to move your networking from cyberspace to the real world. In addition to the bevy of online resources, you can find out what's going on in Des Moines by checking local event calendars. Two great ones are the City of Des Moines' official website and the Catch Des Moines Community Calendar. Both are fantastic resources for local business events, Chamber of Commerce activities, and everything else going on in town, like upcoming concerts and festivals.
Joining the Chamber of Commerce is another smart way to get involved in the local professional community. Membership usually offers discounts on networking events, workshops, and webinars where you can learn and grow in your field while meeting new contacts.
The Greater Des Moines Young Professionals Connection is dedicated to making Des Moines a desirable place for young professionals to work and live. The organization offers a variety of community and professional events to help you get settled in your new home and career.
Get Out There
Once you know what's going on, decide which groups you want to be part of and then attend an event. While it might feel intimidating to go to an event alone, don't sweat it. Remember, you're already the queen of bravery because you took a chance on moving to Iowa in the first place.
When attending an event on your own, remember these survival tips.
1. Don't make the bar your safety zone - You're making a first impression and, while having a glass of wine is perfectly acceptable, you need to limit yourself to two drinks at most.
2. Smile - Your smile is like a big welcome sign that lets others know you are interested and approachable. Plus, the simple act of smiling will give you a confidence boost and help you feel more relaxed.
3. Say hello first - Don't wait for everyone to come to you. Introduce yourself and let them know you're a recent transplant to the city. Find out what they love about it and what they recommend for a newcomer.
4. Flash those business cards - Because your whole goal is to make a lasting impression, don't forget to bring plenty of business cards and pass them out. It's the easiest and best way for people to remember you and follow up later.
Even if you feel a little overwhelmed at the prospect of building a new network in Des Moines, don't let your nerves get the best of you. You've taken a chance that many people wouldn't even consider - and you deserve to make the most of it. This is your turn to shine and wow your new city.
Which strategies are you going to use to take Des Moines by storm? Let us know in the comments!