\ My husband and I received the exciting news last December that we would be relocating across the country from San Diego, California to Toronto, Canada for his job for two years. This news was met with both immense excitement and a bit of trepidation.
Living in the same city for a long amount of time carries with it a sense of comfort: You know all the short cuts when the roads are backed up with traffic, who to call when you need to grab a glass of wine to brainstorm business ideas, where to go when you have to grab that last minute home item for a dinner party.
While exciting, moving to a city, albeit a whole new country, is a bit intimidating.
I thought a lot about the challenges that were soon to come. What would I do for a living there? Would I continue to blog? Run my freelance business as a wardrobe stylist? Where would I even begin? These were among some of the thoughts that were initially racing through my head. I had feelings of internal nervousness about what moving to Toronto might be like. But despite those initial fears, I mainly viewed this as a new life experience that most didn’t get the opportunity to have. So, I wanted to grab it by its coattails and ride it in the most positive way.
After thinking it over during the few rapidly passing weeks left in my current city, I developed a goal: To reach out to as many new people and integrate myself as quickly as I possibly could into my new city. Prior to moving to Toronto, I knew very little about it. Having only visited Vancouver on the west side for three days, there was a lot of ground I needed to cover. I needed to develop some sort of plan to network with strangers.
Social Media is a powerful tool to Network
As a blogger and entrepreneur (freelance stylist), I depend a lot on social media. So when planning the move, I set about using social media as one of my most powerful networking tools. I started on Instagram, researched Google for “Toronto style blogs” & “Toronto food blogs.” These were a few of the places I started to explore to find information about my new city. I used relevant hashtags to find people and places. As I researched, I learned that I was already following a few women on social media who were from Toronto! From that point, I created multiple lists of people to reach out to. I made a list for “potential collaborations”, “style bloggers” (because I have a style blog myself), “food blogs”, “PR/Media Companies”, “Brands”, “job ideas”. Then I created a general (but authentic!) email that I tailored to each and every person who was on my lists. I included an introduction, something that I liked/enjoyed about them/their brand/their blog, etc., and I asked them if they wanted to grab coffee. I mean, what did I have to lose? The worst thing that could happen was they could have said no.
But you know what? 90% of them agreed! Some of these ladies have now become part of my new Toronto network. And what a resource they have been! These ladies became the eyes and ears of the city I needed to learn so much about. Social media is a powerful tool that can be used for good when you’re developing & building a new network. You have to take that leap and put yourself out there. It was worth the time & effort that I put into sending those emails. These ladies have been one of my most powerful resources. All from social media!
Update Your Media Kit, Resume, and Create a Mini Bio about yourself
I knew if I was going to be reaching out to anyone, I needed to brush up on my resume and media kit. So I did just that. I went as far to write a mini bio about myself to give a glimpse of who I was to others. I wrote it all on the website, canva.com, which has great pre-created templates to use. I saved those 3 documents to a folder on my desktop and when I sent out emails, I knew exactly what attachments to include! This was great resource when I needed to send my ‘get-to-know-me’ email and has proven handy in the months following our move.
Reach out to Brands, Businesses, and PR Companies and Introduce Yourself; Offer Content, and/or ask to Intern to get to know the ropes.
In addition to reaching out to new blogging friends, as a blogger/entrepreneur one of the most important networking goals for me was letting businesses, brands, and PR/Media know that I was out there and that I was moving to Toronto. I hopped on Twitter and Google and searched ‘PR companies Toronto’, ‘Social Media Marketing Companies Toronto’, and ‘Local Toronto Brands’. I found their contact information and specific names of people (bonus: it is so important to try and address all emails by first names rather than “To Whom It May Concern”) and added them to my networking email list.
I then created a generalized template email that politely introduced myself and gave them a brief story of our move, told them I was interested in collaborating and included my new updated bio & media kit. I made sure to add in a few specific details about them or why I felt I would be a good fit for them. When networking, it’s crucial to highlight something unique about that brand or business that you recognize. It really helps you to stand out among the plethora of emails they receive daily. Mention a brand they represent or how you can help create a blog post highlighting a product.
When networking, it’s crucial to highlight something unique about that brand or business that you recognize. It really helps you to stand out among the plethora of emails they receive daily. Mention a brand they represent or how you can help create a blog post highlighting a product.
As I mentioned, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to start when it came to jumping into a job. So in my emails I also mentioned I was available for “internships,” if needed, to help get to know the industry. When I did this, one new boutique PR agency here in Toronto needed an intern! So I interned with them for a few months, worked on a project, and they got to know who I was. It also helped me to get to know the ins/outs of the city really quickly! Working for this agency also benefitted me because they knew I was also a freelance wardrobe stylist and when they had a styling job opportunity, they asked to hire me! From that one email to a PR agency, I was able to get to know some fabulous ladies, intern, and get hired on a styling job. Reaching out with an authentic email really did the trick! Now we’re working together on future opportunities.
Continue to be Authentic and Follow up on Outreach
Someone I met in Toronto said to me upon meeting, “You’re the same on social media as you are in person!” I took this to be a very. big. compliment. Something I want to make sure of when networking online is that I am authentic and intentional. Yes, when I post things, it’s bright, shiny, and colorful. But that’s how I see the world. And that’s how my personality is, too. When posting on social media then reaching out to brands, I try to make sure my true self shines through. If I email someone, I try to make sure there is something unique about them that I point out and I also mention how I think that I align with that aesthetic. If you are being true to you and being authentic, that will allow you to reach out and network with some really amazing people.
Something I want to make sure of when networking online is that I am authentic and intentional. Yes, when I post things, it’s bright, shiny, and colorful. But that’s how I see the world. And that’s how my personality is, too. When posting on social media then reaching out to brands, I try to make sure my true self shines through.
When I do send out an email, meet a brand, or work with media, I always make it a point to send a follow-up email or note. It’s especially helpful as a reminder if I haven’t heard back from someone. Then when/if I do, I try to take the time to hand-write or email a thank you! If someone goes out of their way to meet up with you or connect you with someone, it’s especially important to give out the Thank You love! You will be remembered if you follow up; trust me, it makes all the difference.
When we decided to make our big move, there was a certain sense of familiarity that I had to let go of. I had to learn to be a bit more malleable and understand that I couldn’t control the outcome of what was to happen. It wasn’t easy. But I learned by reaching out into the unfamiliar, offering myself up to exploring new possibilities, being true & authentic, and following up with gratitude, I’ve been able to network with amazing new people, make genuine quality friendships, brand partnerships, and am immensely proud of starting anew in our city of Toronto that I now call home.
Photos by Whitney Schey