2020 will be a record year for visitors to Milwaukee. We’ll have tens of thousands of visitors coming from the DNC Convention and 2020 Ryder Cup in addition to other cultural events like the North American Festival of Wales.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Milwaukee. We need to celebrate these visitors and start thinking about how to turn tourists into talent.

A great example of a visit-to-home story is that of Socialeads cofounder Larry Hitchcock.  While in town to visit family from LA, Larry attended and ultimately won Northwestern Mutual’s Reverse Pitch competition. That visit and event ultimately resulted in a growing local company and one of the city’s most active tech community members.

Here are our tips to turn tourists into talent:

1) Meet people!

  • Online: Conferences and events have hashtags to make connections and keep a conversation going. Follow the #hashtags to know who is in town and what their impressions are of the event and the city. Offer a meeting to those who might benefit from your expertise or share your interests. It’s critical to keep this very professional and clear on why you want to meet. Just sliding into someone’s inbox with a vague request to meet while they are in town will not be well received.  If a meeting request seems too forward for you, starting a conversation with a message providing some relevant information to them (that is not just a pitch for your company) is another way to strike up a conversation.
  • In person: Yes, this seems obvious but you will need to speak to strangers to turn them into connections. Hosting a complimentary event like a happy hour is a great way to extend invitations and meet the people you’re hoping to connect with. If that’s too big of a commitment, looking for those public events and attending is a great start.

2) Start a connection. Ask questions. Do not pitch.

Resist the urge to launch into a pitch!  Instead, ask questions. Find out what they like about their current role, city and life. You can then offer up your own story without them wanting to run away.  

See if their interests line up with our city – here are some of the ways you can sell Milwaukee, depending on who you are talking to and what their interests are.



  • Milwaukee is a big small city. This means that access to people, innovators, city officials and change is one person away.
  • It’s easy to meet people, connect and find your belonging.
  • We have four seasons of outdoor recreation. Multiple beaches, three rivers, world class park system and coastal day trips are all within reach.


  • We have major intellectual capital: 90,000+ college students in the southeastern Wisconsin region.
  • We’re an economic powerhouse with 23 Fortune 1000 companies from Madison to Milwaukee and down to Kenosha.
  • Our most important natural resource, water, is abundant in Milwaukee. We are the home to the UWM School of Freshwater Sciences, the Global Water Center, Water Innovation Incubator and situated on the largest cluster of freshwater lakes in the world.
  • Milwaukee is an unfinished city. Instead of being just another number, you can make a difference and be part of our narrative.


  • Milwaukee has deep soul. It has grit. It’s friendly like no other city in the world, and loves to entertain.
  • Spend more time doing what you love. People spend an average of 293 hours per year sitting in traffic. Instead of commuting, spend more time with your friends and family.
  • We preserved our past rather than tearing down and starting over. We saved and restored our historic buildings, resulting in a city with gorgeous, historic architecture.
  • We have always been a food and beverage city. From beer to cheese, premium sausage, old fashioneds, fish frys every Friday, bloody marys and custard. We started beer gardens and today, they’re as strong as ever. We are also a mecca of bowling and supper clubs. Everyone else’s trends are our traditions.

3) Follow up and keep talking.

The best way to stay in touch is to keep a conversation going with callbacks to your original conversation. If they mentioned an interest in art, it’s not annoying to send a piece of big art news with a note that says “Saw this and thought of you.” Here’s where you can plant or continue to plant seeds around moving here.

You might say, “As I was thinking about our conversation, I think you could really find a great fit here. Let me know if I can help at all in learning more about MKE or [company].”


4) Share relevant opportunities.

Once you understand their interests and have a bit of rapport, you can send them actual job opportunities!  This means hand picking and personally sending them relevant openings.

Do not add them to a “talent community” that is a mailing list of keyword matches and URLs to jobs. That’s just annoying.

Unless they’re actively telling you that they want to move here (in which case a wide net might be ok) stick to really compelling moves. A good rule is to make sure the opportunity makes sense on at least three levels:

  • Company fit
  • Seniority/scope of role
  • Compensation and/or cost of living
  • Team fit
  • Interesting problems to solve

Their great experience in the city should be one of those levels!

By taking these steps, we can seize this opportunity to give visitors a sense of belonging in Milwaukee. They can not only go back to their hometowns with great Milwaukee stories, but also call us home.

To talk talent strategy for your business, contact us at hello@newance.co.


Urban Spaceship #2: Building Social Infrastructure for Marginalized Communities



Urban Spaceship #1: Displacement through Disinvestment



2020 NEWaukee Night Market Season Canceled