Dear Life Matters,

I recently relocated to Los Angeles from the Mid-west as a result of my company’s West Coast expansion efforts. As I adjust to a new city, opportunities, and professionals, I would like advice about making the most out of what Los Angeles has to offer. In particular, I am interested in learning more about possible ways to increase my business network and meet new professionals in the greater Los Angeles area. Are there specific functions or networking events that I should consider?

Signed,

Relocated Worker

Dear Relocated,

Welcome to Los Angeles! Relocating for a job can be an exciting way to learn about a new city and business market while enjoying the comfort and security of a company that you know well and have built a strong reputation with. As you think about making your mark in Los Angeles you are wise to consider ways to strengthen your business network and establish yourself in the local business community.

As you may be starting to realize, Los Angeles is a metropolitan area made up of different communities and cities. For a new resident this means a wide variety of communities and areas to navigate as you get your bearings. Many major geographic areas within L.A. County have a Chamber of Commerce dedicated to representing the local businesses and professionals within that community. Joining a local Chamber of Commerce or attending a networking event hosted by a local chamber can be a great way to meet others in your immediate community. On the Westside of Los Angeles alone there are several chamber groups including the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, West L.A., Beverly Hills, Culver City, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, and the LAX Coastal Area Chamber of Commerce. Most of the chambers have an active website listing ways to get involved, upcoming mixer or networking events, and a membership directory to show you who is active within their organizations. Connecting with dedicated professionals active in your local community can be a great way to expand your community connections.

LinkedIn, Meetup and other social networking sites can help you streamline your search by identifying groups that are active in your local community. Try searching for groups based on your career interests, hobbies, geographic location, or affiliations. While some groups may only exist in an online arena, others may host regular networking events or mixers to provide members with an opportunity to meet in person and expand their connections with fellow group members. If someone listed in a group has an interesting title or background, feel free to reach out and make an introduction. Being proactive in the quest to meet others will help you to achieve success.

Consider ways that your personal network might exist in Los Angeles. For instance, you might consider exploring whether your alma mater has a local chapter or alumni group in Los Angeles. Many universities have active alumni groups throughout the country. Tapping into your university network can be a great way to meet professionals in a new city by leveraging something you have in common. Meetup can be another great way to meet professionals with a common area of interest. For instance, searching the Meetup.com for Mid-west transplants might help you connect with others who have relocated to Los Angeles from the Mid-west. Finding local professionals with a common background or experience may provide you with a network to support you in your adjustment to the L.A. business market.

Once you start to establish your network in L.A., keep in mind that a few standard rules continue to apply no matter where you are. First, making a connection is only a small piece of the puzzle. Make sure that you work on maintaining that connection by staying in regular contact and providing value to that person. For instance, if you take action based on advice you receive form a contact, stay in touch and let them know that you followed through on their suggestion. If you meet someone at a networking event that you know another contact would value meeting, introduce them to one another. It is never too early to show your value to a new connection.

KATRINA DAVY, M.A., Ed.M, is a professional career counselor who has worked in university and private settings. She holds degrees from Cornell and Columbia universities. Visit her online at www.kdcareer.com. Send your questions to newshrink@gmail.com. All questions are kept anonymous; let us help you with your life matters!