Sioux Falls is a friendly community with an eclectic variety of groups, people, and activities for you to experience. Whether you want to develop personal friendships or professional networks, there is something for everyone. If you are considering a move to Sioux Falls but don't know anyone here, don't let that stop you.

Networking is a contact sport, and in Sioux Falls it's easy to get involved. With a little effort on your part, you will soon be invited to more things than you have space on your calendar!

First, decide what kind of connections or interests you want to develop.

Join a professional group or civic organization. Whatever your interest, there is probably an affinity group, including service clubs, fraternal societies, rescue groups, political organizations, military veteran groups, and career or professional associations. The chamber of commerce is especially vibrant in Sioux Falls, with monthly mixers for members, active committees, a Leadership Sioux Falls program, and a Young Professionals Network. If you are an employee of the many businesses belonging to the Chamber, you are welcome to attend its events and get involved. The City of Sioux Falls also offers a number of advisory boards that civic-minded citizens may serve on.

Learn something new. Sioux Falls is an ideal community for the lifelong learner, whether for informal recreational learning of a new hobby or formal enrollment in college level coursework. The City of Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation Guide lists indoor and outdoor activities for all ages. Check out the Sioux Falls Community Education guide for short classes on hobbies and special interests; these casual sessions are a fun way to meet other like-minded individuals with similar interests. You might even consider teaching one if you have a subject expertise! If you are over the age of 55, consider the leisure learning activities at the Center for Active Generations.

Join a social or networking group. Sioux Falls offers referral groups, social mingling groups, friendship groups at churches of every affiliation, support and recovery groups, art and culture groups, and hobby clubs.

Volunteer for a nonprofit. Sioux Falls citizens are incredibly generous of their time and talents, and there are many nonprofit groups who would welcome your contributions.

Second, phone a friend: The Helpline Center is a phone call away at 211. Once you know what kind of group or activity you want, the Helpline Center can point you in the right direction. The Downtown Sioux Falls website also has a list of civic and nonprofit organizations. Don't overlook your realtor or local banker either, as a friendly resource for identifying potential groups of interest to you. For many civic organizations and networking groups in Sioux Falls, a special invitation is not can often see their upcoming meetings and events listed in the newspaper, on Facebook, and in the numerous free community magazines available at local stores and restaurants.

Third, pay it forward. Over 4,000 people move to Sioux Falls each year. That's a lot of folks who are also looking to establish connections and roots. So extend a South Dakota friendly smile and warm handshake, and invite them with you as you make Sioux Falls a welcoming community!

What it means to me

As a Newcomer to Sioux Falls

by Joanne Haase

When I moved to Sioux Falls, I knew no one here other than my husband, and I was unemployed. He worked long hours at his new job, so it was up to me to build a life in this new environment, which was much different in culture and weather than where we used to live. My first connection was the realtor who helped us find a rental home. She invited me to accompany her to a service club she belonged to. She introduced me to her fellow members, and they in turn invited me to coffee or events, and suggested people for informational interviews and places for employment.

I remember one kind person invited me to a nonprofit organization's luncheon. Hesitantly, I accepted, and when I arrived I went to the back of the room to find an inconspicuous place to sit, as I knew not a soul there. The woman found me in the crowd, and brought me to the table she was sitting at. It turned out she was the keynote speaker at this event! Both the realtor and this community leader made a huge impact on my perception of Sioux Falls as an inviting community.

Networking doesn't have to be something formal or contrived; it simply is an authentic gesture of friendship and expressing an interest in the people and events around you. Say yes to the invitations to events and the opportunities to volunteer for service clubs or nonprofit organizations! A sense of adventure about all the wonderful things to do in Sioux Falls will open many doors and start new friendships. Many of the people I first met joining new activities and clubs in Sioux Falls are still my friends today. So get involved, and soon it will be you inviting the newcomer to a cup of coffee or your favorite service organization or hobby club!