I am originally from India and I now call Australia home. When I arrived in Perth in 2015, I knew no one here. For the first 6 months, my life revolved solely around my work place and home and some trips to local places of interest – alone.
Having lived a very social and outgoing life in India, I found it difficult at first to adjust to my new life in Perth. After spending a few weeks in a new country, one does feel overwhelmed at the shocking drop in social interaction. It’s in times like these that you need to figure out how to build a network in your new hometown. Here are a few tips from my own experiences in Australia:
1. Your neighbors: Start with your neighbors. When you see them out and about, simply stop by to say hi and introduce yourself. You might be surprised by the response that you receive! If you are too shy for this, you may drop hand-written notes in your neighbors’ letter boxes, so when they see you next time, at least they know your name – it’s an easy way to initiate a conversation!
2. Your local library: Visit your local library and register yourself. Look for opportunities to volunteer. Sessions like CoderDojo forums for teenagers, or basic computer classes for senior citizens are very popular at local libraries. Volunteer for such sessions.
3. Toastmasters: Look for a Toastmasters club in your area. Your local library could have information about this. Toastmasters is a great way to improve your communications skills in a safe environment, is often open for individuals of all skill levels and is a great way to meet new people and make friends.
4. Learn a new art/ skill: You will often find free art and craft classes advertised at your local library. Similarly your local Bunnings store will often conduct workshops for different trades. So if something like glass painting or woodwork or carpentry interests you, go ahead and make the most of such opportunities.
5. Local neighborhood events: Visit local events in your neighborhood. These are a great way to understand which family businesses operate in your locality and give you the chance to listen to/ watch some local artists while they perform. You might also consider volunteering for such events – managing traffic on local streets or directing vehicles towards car parks etc.
6. Sign up for a flyer distribution service: This serves multiple purposes. Firstly, if you are new to a place and are looking to make some money, this lets you do that. Secondly, you get to explore nearby localities entirely – down to every nook and corner of every street. And thirdly, while distributing flyers, you come across people mowing their lawns or walking their dogs. Chatting with people gives you the opportunity to hone your “small talk” skills and potentially lets you widen your network. Just a word of caution – it’s small talk, avoid getting too overbearing! 🙂
7. Your local pub: Visit your local pub over the weekend and try to mingle with the local. More than going with an agenda of “expanding your network” you may treat this as an opportunity to learn the local culture, the lingo, the humor (I found Aussie humor pretty difficult to understand at first), the sports that the locals follow, and social etiquette in general.
8. Meetup: Theapp is by far your best friend for finding people with similar interests in your vicinity. You will be surprised to see how many Meetup groups operate in your city, both – for professional as well as social purposes. Meetup groups are often the best source for meeting new people and expanding your network.
Most importantly, understand that you are in a new place and that it will take a while for you to develop meaningful associations with people around you. In the meanwhile, be outgoing, be courteous, be respectful and most importantly, be friendly!
I understand that your initial days in Australia can be difficult and I am sensitive to the fact.
We started Chalo Australia with an aim to help new migrants quickly settle down in Australia. You can contact us for any assistance that you need.