Banyan Branch

6 ways to find a job in an unfamiliar city

June 29, 2012: 10:00 AM ET

The idea of job hunting in a town where you know no one (yet) is daunting, but laying some groundwork before you move can help.

FORTUNE -- Dear Annie: I just graduated from college and have not yet received a job offer, but my fiancée got a great job, which she's starting in a couple of weeks. The only thing is, it's on the other side of the country and, while I'm excited about making the move, I'm a little nervous about looking for a job in a place where I don't know anyone. I do have a summer job here, which I committed to taking before she got the news about her offer, so I won't be moving until September. What should I be doing in the meantime to make sure I'm not just riding her coattails when I get there? — Farewell to Beantown

Dear Beantown: You're smart to realize that you need to start looking now, rather than waiting until after you move. "What doesn't work, when you're moving to a new place, is rushing in," says Blake Cahill, president of Seattle-based online marketing and branding firm Banyan Branch. "You need to build connections gradually. First, find the right people. Then ask the right questions. This way, by the time you actually move, you'll have laid the groundwork for face-to-face meetings that can lead you to job opportunities."

Sounds great, but exactly how do you do it? Try these six tips:

1. Tap into social media. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete and up-to-date, and your Facebook page is ready for viewing by potential employers and colleagues. Then use the search fields on these social networks to find people in the field where you're hoping to find work.

"LinkedIn groups are a terrific way to find important information," notes Cahill. "They let you ask questions like how the job market is, in your field in a particular city, and which local trade associations and professional groups are most active there. People are usually very helpful.

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"Twitter is also a powerful tool," Cahill adds. "Search, for example, 'accounting Seattle' and see who's tweeting about it. Then follow those people." Cahill also recommends checking out Listorious, a directory of Twitter lists you can use to match areas of interest to lists of people, topics, and professions; and WeFollow which lets you locate people whose business interests match yours.

2. Be selective. "One of the biggest mistakes people make is over-networking," Cahill observes. "Don't randomly connect with everyone out there. Sometimes a person with a relatively small Twitter following is more influential in real life than someone else who has a gazillion followers. You want to be in touch with people who can actually help you and for whom you might be able to add value." More

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