Friday, 6 August 2010

Guest Blogger Series: Introducing... Bryce Keane

We’re starting up our Guest Blogger Series again and this week, we are lucky enough to feature a guest post from Bryce Keane from Australia. He has been working in London in the PR industry for just over a year now and has some tips and advice to share….

When Connecting is Key

I have been living as an expat in London for around 14 months now and one of the most common questions I always get asked by other, newly arrived, Aussies is often “How do I find stuff?”.

Now, that is actually a general umbrella question for a host of other questions I often get – anything from “How do I find a job?” to “How do I meet people?”, “How can I find a flat?”, “How can I find about upcoming gigs?”, to “Where is a good place to go out on Saturday night?” and even, “Do you know where I can get a decent cup of coffee?”.

I always take these questions quite seriously, because I know exactly how it feels to have to ask them. However, I was very lucky to have been moved over with work and to have a few contacts when I arrived but that did not stop me from constantly exploring new ways to just generally ‘find stuff out’ in my new home. So, when I was asked to contribute to Expat Explorer, I thought it might be a perfect place to jot down a few of the things I’ve learned since being here.

What’s Going On?

A good friend of mine gave me one very handy tip when I first arrived, he sent me the link to sign-up for the Time-Out e-newsletter which is an old resource but – in my book – still one of the best out there for what’s going on every weekend in London. Everything from events, to the best ‘cheap eats’ places, to the best coffee in London (trust me, I have this list saved in multiple locations). It is still a great resource and so I am passing that link on to you.

Later, I often got the question about upcoming gigs (one of the best things about London) and, as I had moved in with a musical housemate by then, I put this question to him. His response, which I shall share with you, was thus:

‘My tips are finding the venues that put on bands you like. For me it's The Lexington, Cargo, Hoxton Bar + Kitchen, Scala, Luminaire etc. Go to the venue’s website and they will have a very up to date list, with much more info as well. Also, new sites like which are set up to integrate with your Facebook profile.’

Following your favourite bands on Twitter is another great idea, as they often give details for presale tickets. Couple this with new smartphone apps like GigBox and you’ll be rocking out in no time!

I would add to this by saying that UK music blogs are some of the best in the world, so also keep your eyes on would be The Stool Pigeon, The Line of Best Fit, Pitchfork Media (US-based but very good), London Gigs and of course my old favorite Time-Out London’s music gig guide.

Festivals is another common one for expats, and this one I would say is a personal choice (as the UK have so many, all with their own unique feel, that is worth exploring and experimenting). However, some of the bigger ones that might be easier to try out first (and often come with amazing line-ups) include the famous Glastonbury, The Isle of Wight Festival, Bestival, V Festival, Reading Festival and Latitude Festival (IoW and Latitude being two personal favorites of mine).

Jobs Anyone?

The key to job hunting in the UK, to me, is two-fold (and also can be linked to meeting new people, but more on that later): First, build up your digital profile – if you haven’t got one, get a LinkedIn and fill it with everything on your CV, then get a Twitter account and start searching for the area your interested in with a hashtag like ‘#jobs’ at the end. Many people are amazed to find that there are 300,000 jobs advertised on Twitter per month and recruiters are increasingly using LinkedIn to source new talent. Once you have these two in place, start calling or connecting online with either recruiters or the internal HR people, depending on what you’re looking for. Never stop with just one recruiter, as it will take a while to find the right one for you, and try and call and get people out for a coffee meeting whenever you can. The key is to get your face, knowledge and personality in front of them, as you will already be at an advantage over the existing pile of CV’s on their desk.

Where do I live?

Ahhh, the most important one! Where you live in London will definitely shape your impression of the city. London can be a madcap place, so finding somewhere that is your peaceful haven away from it all is key. I still find Gumtree to be one of the best resources, because it changes daily, and there are a whole host of other websites like Flatmate Finder, but also look to your friends or any contacts you have over here. Helping to get the word out that you’re looking, amongst friends and friends of friends, will often save you the hassle of looking at multiple flats without any success. Also, make sure you keep an eye on key factors like public transport options and availability of supermarkets etc before saying yes – these things sound very basic, but can be a real pain in the long run if not easily accessible.

Finding People/Places/Everything Else

One of the things I really love about a global city like London is that, as intimidating as it can sometimes seem to the newly arrived, everyone is here – from all over the world – to achieve something. The beauty of this, in my experience, is that it is a city full of people, many of whom are just like you and are also here from other parts of the world to meet new people, experience new things etc. This is not to say that you should befriend every person on your local bus, but it does mean that you can meet some amazing people if you put yourself out there. Just don’t walk around comparing everything to home, as this is one mistake that I have seen many make before – open your mind and enjoy everything for what it is, different.

I would assume most of you use Facebook, but get yourself out there on Twitter and see who else is talking about / interested in the same things you are. Search for topics, brands, destinations or even ‘tweet-ups’ that occur around London for free every night and begin connecting with people offline as well. Get on to Google Blog Search and seek out people that explore and right about the things you would love to know – clubs, restaurants, shopping, festivals, travel, music – it’s all out there and, best of all, it’s free. Most importantly of all, in terms of nightlife, make a point of trying to explore as many areas as you can on your weekends because North, South, East and West London all have different vibes and different crowds. Find the one that works for you and the rest will follow naturally.

About the author
Bryce Keane is originally from Melbourne and is now working in London as an Account Manager for Mulberry Marketing Communications. He is always interested in hearing from other communications professionals with thoughts, feedback or just for a chat. You can reach him on or Twitter or to find out more about Bryce’s adventures, subscribe to his blog- The Boy in the Bar.

Images source: Courtesy of Sebastien Dehesdin from

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