How to build a social community in a new city

Moving to a new city is hard.  You leave behind family, friends, familiar places, and a whole ecosystem of support.  I moved to San Francisco last year.  For me, it was a new city in a new country, all the way across the other end of the continent, and five hours away from what I know and what I am comfortable with.  I moved in with one of my colleagues and spent a lot of time with a group of work friends both in and out of the office. Outside of work, I knew no one.  It was around my first few months that I knew if I was to develop connections outside of work, I would have to put a lot of effort into it.  My friends suggested joining intramural or some sort of league  If you’re like me and hopeless at organized sports, then that suggestion doesn’t pan out well.

Starting from scratch, I reached out to my established community back home and worked with that to build a new one.  Here are some methods that worked for me.

  1. 2nd Degree Connections.  I emailed my family and friends and asked if they had a friend or a friend of a friend in my new city.  This resulted in four friend dates with one individual becoming a close friend of mine now.
  2. Facebook Creep.  Being a first generation Facebook college user, I had no shortage of friends on my list.  Mark Zuckerberg has made it incredibly easy to look up your friends and filter them by city.  Through my excessive creeping and research, I discovered a few people I knew that were in the city.
  3. LinkedIn.  LinkedIn has this brilliant feature under Contacts in the menu bar where you can search for high school and college alumni by what they studied, where they work, and where they live.  It was through this tool that I discovered that one of my college classmate and who also happened to be a former roommate of one of my best friends lives in the city.  I’ve also connected with two other alumni through LinkedIn.  It never fails to amaze me how open alumni are to meeting other alumni and chatting with them.
  4.  Meetup is one of those misses for me but partially due to the fact I only ever went to one.  Many of my friends, however, have met and created strong friendships from people they’ve connected with through Meetup.
  5. Eventbrite.  Luckily for me, San Francisco is a vibrant, bustling city that offers tons of free events, workshops, lectures, etc.  Right away, I took advantage of the environment around me and searched for events under $20 on Eventbrite that suited my interest.  While I haven’t found a friend through Eventbrite yet, I have met some really cool and interesting individuals in my passing.

These are some of my tried and true methods.  As I continue to build my community here, I would love to hear some ideas of other meet and greets that have worked.  Feel free to share them with me in the comments section.


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