Imagine your PCS has been full of delays. Imagine you are just arriving at your next duty assignment weeks or even months later than you originally expected. You are anxious to get your house settled and your family established in new patterns of life. Whether it is a firm start date for school or a job, or maybe just a strong desire to put down roots, here are seven ways to get connected within thirty days.
Start by Going Digital
This one is really easy to do and requires very little social courage! Get on your Facebook app and start searching for official pages for your city, town, or county. Follow tourism pages, local attraction pages, and military installation pages or groups. Visit your local Chamber of Commerce website. Check out Tripadvisor and Yelp. Sometimes you have to get acclimated to the places before you can find your people. Use the Internet, Google, and online research to your advantage.
Wave and Say Hello
This suggestion may sound almost too simple to mention, but you might be surprised how easy and effective it is for getting connected to your immediate neighbors. Make it a personal project within the next thirty days to simply wave and say a hearty hello to every neighbor you see out at the mailbox, out on a jog, while walking your dog, or anywhere else you may find yourself. First, you’re waving and helloing. Next, you’re introducing yourself and planning a barbeque or coffee date.
Find Your People
It may feel like there are extra layers to getting out and meeting people during these times of social distancing, mask-wearing, and limited gatherings. However, as events and establishments are resuming in-person meetings, consider reaching out to places you normally connect with kindred spirits. Check out your local churches, gym or workout facilities, civic or alumni organizations you normally join. These community structures are in place to help you quickly assimilate into groups of people with shared common characteristics or interests.
Learn Something New
With every new duty station, most of us get an opportunity for a fresh start with our time and perhaps our passions. Consider using the desire for a new skill or hobby as a catalyst for meeting new people. Many local community centers offer language lessons, art or computer skill classes, group Bingo or Poker games, or exercise groups. Not only will placing yourself in these situations lead to making new acquaintances but as an added bonus you just might pick up a new skill or healthy habit.
Don’t Sleep On the Library
To some, public libraries might seem antiquated or outdated. While many may continue to have limited in-person hours, most are literal hubs of information, including but not limited to current events in the community. Local libraries offer online and in-person education, meetups, virtual storytime, and many keep community calendars advertising big events around town.
Take a Drive to Get the Lay of the Land
Perhaps you aren’t quite ready to join in-person gatherings just yet. One great way to get connected to your new community is to simply get out and drive around. Get familiar with the main pockets of commerce, major roadways, and travel routes. In doing so, you are not only acclimating yourself to the geography and infrastructure of your new town, but you are also seeing what the place has to offer. By locating certain businesses, restaurants, signage, or buildings, you just might find a place to visit again and get involved.
Word of mouth is still one of the best and most effective ways to get the answers you are seeking. Looking for a new hairstylist or specialty medical provider? Looking for the local farmers’ market or a great park to walk your dog? Put out a digital query on your social media channels and ask. You may discover someone you know or a friend of a friend who is local that can help point you in the right direction. Or, now that you’re in the habit of speaking to your neighbors, ask them directly for insights on where they get their car serviced or their favorite place to get a burger.
When you move to a new duty assignment, it can be easy to let the rush to unpack and settle or recover and rest take top place. However, by prioritizing getting connected to people and places in your new town, you will reap great rewards for time to come.