Q: I moved to New Jersey for a promotion, thinking it would be a 2-3 year assignment. That was in 1990. My family and I very much want to return to the Boston area but I have no network to speak of in the area. Complicating matters is the fact that I also want to change careers. I’d appreciate any thoughts on how to get jump started.
A: Welcome back to Boston… well, hopefully soon! You are smart to make the connection between your “network” and a job search.
How can you build a network in Boston while living in New Jersey? Building a network, especially in the early stages, can be partially accomplished using technology. LinkedIn is an important tool and can be used to build your contacts. If you are currently employed, avoid adding 20 contacts per day. Instead, add a few each day. If you are currently employed, you don’t want your LinkedIn profile to scream, “I am looking for a job in Boston!”
It sounds like you have roots in the Boston area. Think about joining groups on LinkedIn, particularly groups that have a Boston-centric purpose. Again, join groups slowly if others might be checking your profile. Add groups affiliated with your college or university. Consider joining Boston-based groups with a focus on your profession. You can join up to 50 groups on LinkedIn. These groups have been invaluable to me in my career.
Try to plan a few trips to Boston. New Jersey to Boston is a drive-able distance, especially if you are tacking some time onto a long weekend. If you have friends and family here, let them know of your interest in relocating back to this area. Consider attending networking or professional events during those trips. Schedule a coffee or a lunch with contacts that could be helpful to you.
You can also target specific companies or events using technology. If your industry experience is in medical devices, you can find out if the Massachusetts Medical Device Industry Council is holding an event during one of your trips. Many of these industry associations also post jobs for free for their member companies.