#1 - Our first days in New York City (1/3)


Living and working in New York City - What is that like? And who are the Germans, Austrians and Swiss who are driving things forward here? That is what "German in New York" is all about. Before we explore the world of the German-speaking community in NYC, we first want to make our own experiences. How does business go in NYC? What is the best way to make professional contacts? How does working in NYC look like?

Read more about our first week's impressions in the blog entry below.


The daily struggle...

Business - New York City - Summer - is a difficult combination: unbearable 100° Fahrenheit (37° Celsius) in subway stations are not uncommon here. Fresh 60° Fahrenheit (15° Celsius) in many cafés, offices and shops offers a welcome change. Meet those who adapt to such circumstances in the best way: The widespread species of Office-New Yorkers! Their experience living in one of the fastest moving metropolises in the world has made them particularly flexible. This also applies to styling. Spinning class between meetings? No problem! The New York practicality and adaptability, mixed with time pressure and a subtle "I don't give a f***" attitude will probably be the drivers of a new fashion trend in motion: Athleisure, athletic clothing, casually worn and if combined correctly, even suitable for business. I doubt whether all New Yorkers dressed in athleisure really go to the gym after their last Meet-Up. However, it does look comfortable and airy!


Those who cannot avoid the stricter business dress code in the office, help themselves differently. For instance, a German living in New York told me how he brings up to three outfits into the office every day: The outfit he wears when he commutes to work on his bike, the business clothes and a fresh gym outfit for afterwards - prepared to cope with all eventualities! That is how I have perceived all New Yorkers around me so far. Unexpected things are not a problem to them, you do not know what to expect around the next corner anyway.

New Yorkers are imperturbable - even when they are stuck in the subway for almost 40 minutes between Queebsboro and Lexington (in a tunnel... under water). I, an amateur of the art of subway riding, got nervous quickly. My surroundings, apparently all advanced of the said art, were there not to be disturbed: Perfectly prepared for the unpredictable, everyone had something to do - even without an internet connection. Impressive!

In general, you can get from A to B easily, but not always fast. With its 472 stations, the New York subway has the most public transport stations in the world, but cancellations, route closures or incidents that are not further described are common. The subway is one of the most important means of transport in New York City. On a normal weekday, an average of 5.6 million journeys are recorded. For comparison, every Düsseldorfer would have to travel by subway about 9 times to get to that number. Crazy!



But where do you work?

Co-Working spaces are the right answer here. But I will talk more about that in the next blog post.

Meanwhile, coffee houses and bagel places have turned out to be wonderful places to work. You can definitely find more smartphones, notebooks and tablets than people at those places. Everyone is working at least on two of those devices. While working here, you get the feeling of being part of a smart army in a switchboard - LAN-Party anyone?
You will also get productive here, as there will be looks from the left and right if you do something conspicuously different from working. - Sorry - not sorry for my loud German facetiming!

So far I have mostly tried places in Queens and made good experiences. Popular areas in Manhattan are more difficult: Coffee places in SoHo or Hell's Kitchen, for example, often do not offer free Wi-Fi. One can only wonder whether they want to prevent the smart army or simply do not need to offer it.


Did you meet anyone yet?

If you are seriously looking for business connections in New York, you won't be alone for long. Besides countless Meet-Ups, Clubs, Gatherings and Panel Discussions, there are now even Apps that match contacts with the same interests and professional intentions in a Tinder like manner. Shapr is one of those apps. We will let you know more about our experiences with Shapr in the next blogpost. Stay tuned!


Attending one of the numerous events, it did not take us long to notice the speed of networking in New York. Time is a rare commodity here and everyone is on the lookout. Whether for the next investor, the next talent or the next undiscovered possibility. "Let's see what you can do for me or if I can help you" is the mantra. "Oh, sounds like I should give you my card" gives you the feeling that you have been found useful. Next, projects and business ideas are exchanged in order to see where the 'assets' of the new contact could be used or how to benefit them. I personally enjoy the speed and the "let's get to the point" attitude of the New Yorkers when networking. Fast. Direct. Efficient.

People here are generally very open to new ideas and approaches. Everything that is 'bold' is cool at the same time and could be THE next idea. If someone built a notable reputation in their field, the contact gains immediate and enormous demand among their peers. Their popularity reaches an extent to which no phone numbers are printed on business cards. "I want to be able to sort the inquiries out. There are a lot of useless ones I have no interest in", was the answer to the question of why. Pragmatic. Almost German-pragmatic. I like it.


But... where do you go?

The best source to find events is definitely Eventbrite. If an organisation does not have its own ticket shop, the ticket sales and RSVPs usually also run through an Eventbrite page. Depending on the size of the event, ticket prices vary between $10 and approximately $60. Larger conferences and conventions can be as expensive as $300 - $1000.

In order to save time, it is advisable to research the events' backgrounds. How popular is the organizer? Who are the speakers? What is the events goal? How many participants are attending (at least online)? Social networks, more precisely the number of followers and event commitments, have proven to be great criteria. Also, there is the impression that 'corporate organized' events tend to rather strengthen brand loyalty than provide a good space to network - I know, who would have thought?! My Experience so far has confirmed what can be guessed: the more unprofitable the organizer, the better the event. Evidence No. 1: NYAI, short for New York Artificial Intelligence, is a non-profit organization that gathers the community linked to artificial intelligence. Great events!


My qualified tips so far: 

  • Pitch yourself! If you plan to make contacts, prepare business cards and a short pitch about yourself and what you do. The latter should be short, concise and to the point.

  • Be prepared! Strong temperature changes, no internet connection or subway outages should always be taken into account.

  • Do your research! It's worth researching events more closely in order to use your time efficiently.

Stay tuned for Blogpost #2 next week:

  • Co-Working Spaces: Experiences, pros and cons, how do they work?

  • Cornell Tech: The new university on the island between the islands.

  • Shapr: Tinder for professionals.

About the author: 

Marina Hahn is in New York City for VIVID and Kunst und Kollegen. She has several years of international experience in marketing and brand management. After stopovers in Moscow and California in the last years, she now reports on the German-speaking community in the Big Apple. She is also a big fan of Taco Trucks and Colin Quinn.

Marina HahnComment