We dedicate a lot of time, energy and effort evangelizing the story of Indiana, encouraging others from around the country to join us in building this tech ecosystem. For many of these folks, however, it can be challenging to get involved locally after they arrive. 

How can people get connected once they arrive to the great state of Indiana? While several organizations are working to help new entrants to Indiana feel welcomed, one has created a monthly opportunity to help people build their Indiana networks.

The Speak Easy coworking space in Broad Ripple hosts a monthly “New to Indy” event to accomplish that goal. What began as a simple meet-and-greet, a forum to exchange experiences between Indy newbies, has become a welcoming networking group. People new to Indy can listen to community speakers and connect over the city they’re learning about.

It starts with a place & people

When The Speak Easy’s director, Julie Heath, moved from Philadelphia to Indy, she lived many of the experiences she now sees from others during the meetup. While she was able to get connected through the only mutual friend she had in Indy, there was still more to be done. “When I came to Indy, the only thing missing was the camaraderie of others who understood the challenges of moving to a new part of the country without a support network of extended family and friends,” she said.

Through The Speak Easy, Juile ended up working for a software-as-a-service startup and built a foundation for her career within the Indy ecosystem, which better solidified her position–and sentiments–concerning her new city. Her experience models what many New to Indy attendees undergo. The group is split between “Boomerang Hoosiers”–those who move away from Indiana and return later in their careers–and folks entirely new to the state.

During the New to Indy meetup, participants get to interact with each other and hear from a local speaker about something interesting and Indy-related. Most recently, IndyGo’s Brandon Evans spoke about the Red Line launching. “Participants express relief at having somewhere to meet friends and ask for recommendations for dentists, mechanics, professional connections and more. Some attendees are trying to figure out their next professional step,” said Julie.

Partners & spouses are keys to success

The New to Indy event has been especially promising in helping connect trailing spouses and partners with the city. While tech-focused individuals may move here for jobs, they often have spouses who also are job-seeking–and it’s important not to neglect trailing partners in the acclimation process. 

“We know from Jennifer Petriglieri’s research on dual career couples that the number one reason for corporate relocation failure is that the trailing partner/spouse doesn’t successfully plug into the new city,” said Julie. “If a professional is talented enough for Lilly, Salesforce, Cummins and such to recruit and relocate him or her to Indy, there’s a high probability they’re partnered up with someone talented. We see talented professionals at the New to Indy meetup, so much so that I’ve invited a few recruiters to attend so that we can help folks get plugged in.” 

This echoes the experience of Ali Cudby, founder of Your Iconic Brand and one of the group’s co-founders. “When I moved to Indy, I knew exactly nobody. I needed a place to work and wanted a community of people to engage with professionally and socially. The Speak Easy became that place for me. Now that I’ve gotten my footing in the Indy ecosystem, having the New to Indy Meetup has allowed me to pay it forward so other newcomers feel welcomed, too.”

An “absorption mechanism” for trailing spouses, as Julie phrases it, would be useful in increasing the connectivity of a newly relocated couple to Indy. This mechanism could likely include a concerted effort toward relocation. “I was fortunate to find The Speak Easy and to meet my co-organizers of our meetup. I can envision a formal partnership with businesses such that we are part of their relocation package.”

The New to Indy Meetups take place monthly at The Speak Easy–you can sign up using Eventbrite. For more resources on connecting with Indy, check out TechPoint and TMap’s Wish You Were Here, which offers introductions to the many communities comprising Indianapolis.