Almost any career development begins with one inescapable strategy: networking. However, it takes work to maintain relationships. Sometimes, more work than we can handle…especially when things get busy. As a result, connections get lost and we fall out of contact. Then, when you need the help to grab a new opportunity, you don’t have network you need.
But don’t worry. Just because you let your personal connections get stale, that doesn’t mean you can’t make up for it. You just have to learn how to reconnect with your old professional contacts.
It’s a critical skill to learn. Studies suggest that networking contributes to up to 85% of jobs getting filled. Unless you want to battle for that remaining 15%, you need to keep your professional connections fresh and ready to help you find new opportunities.
With that in mind, here are four tips to reconnect with old professional contacts:
Look for Openings
Be on the lookout for moments when it’s appropriate to reconnect. Reach out when you hear interesting news: your contact has switched jobs, or has gotten married, or has had a new kid, or has experienced any other significant life change. It gives you an excuse to touch base and rekindle a closer connection.
Using this strategy requires laying some groundwork. After all, you need to know an old professional contact has gotten a new job before you can send your congratulations.
To do this, you’ll need something like an intelligence network. Luckily, the internet is here to help. Follow all your contacts on social media. Keep up with industry news and gossip. This will give you the background information you need to cultivate a strong professional network.
Everyone has areas of expertise that they love to discuss. To reignite a relationship, find topics that will excite your targeted connection. Ask them questions about their favorite subjects and you’re likely to get a response.
Don’t know what to talk about? Well, it’s a simple fact of human nature: people love to talk about themselves. If you’re stuck for a subject, you could always invite your old connection to brag a little about their accomplishments. You my never hear the end of it.
Ease Into It
Don’t launch directly into a professional appeal. When you have a long-standing relationship with a professional contact, you can reach out to them when you’re looking for an opportunity. Having an established rapport lets you get to the point quickly.
When you’ve lost contact with someone, you don’t have this option. You need to warm up the relationship first, before asking for any help. By easing back into a conversation, you set the stage for more substantial discussions in the future.
Remind Them Who You Are
Don’t be offended if a former professional contact doesn’t remember who you are. After all, think about everyone you’ve met in your career. Do you remember everyone you’ve ever worked with?
Any attempt to reconnect is going to involve a process of re-introduction. If you’re trying to spark an interaction with someone you haven’t talked to in a substantial period of time, have some details prepared. Start them off with a “remember when” moment to get the conversation rolling.
You can’t manage your career over the long haul by yourself. Eventually, you’ll need help to land the best opportunities. Networking provides an excellent step. Partnering with a strong staffing agency, like Recruiting In Motion, represents another.