You are in the market for a job, and wishing you hadn’t completely dropped the ball on some of your professional relationships. You feel that it’s too late now to rekindle your relationships with old bosses, co-workers, colleagues, college peers and others in your professional network that could be a huge help to you now. While it’s best to stay in touch with your professional contacts, life gets hectic and things don’t always work out as we had planned. This doesn’t mean you can’t reestablish those relationships, it just may take some time. Here are some tips for reconnecting with professional contacts:
1) Don’t mention your job search right away
If you haven’t spoken to a professional contact in a while, it is likely to come across wrong if your first interaction after a long time involves you asking them for something. For any relationship to be authentic, it needs to involve a balance of giving and taking. If you feel that this contact could be helpful to you in your job search, take some time to catch up with them before you mention that. Ask how they are doing, and see if there is anything you can offer to them first.
2) Address that it’s been a while
When you reconnect with professional contacts, don’t be afraid to mention the elephant in the room: that you have lost touch with each other. Be up front when you reach out to them, saying something like “It has been quite a while since we last spoke, I would love to catch up and exchange ideas.”
3) Try a “Remember when…”
When reconnecting with professional contacts, an effective ice breaker is reminding them of something you experienced or accomplished together. This could be anything from a work project to an unforgettable conference that took place about this time a couple years ago. Once you start reminiscing, the conversation can take many directions.
4) Share something they might find interesting
Art helps people connect on a deep level. One of the most effective ways to reconnect with professional contacts is by sending them an industry-related blog article or video that you think they might find interesting. Mention what it is about the content that made that individual pop into your mind, and the aspects of it that you found inspiring.
5) Call Upon Mutual Friends
Look at your LinkedIn networks, and see if you have any mutual friends. If you are in more regular contact with someone that is in both of your professional networks, ask if that individual can help you reconnect. Or reconnect with professional contacts by simply saying something like “I had no idea you knew _, I have known him for years since we worked together at _”.
6) Take full advantage of LinkedIn
To slowly warm up an old professional connection, start by using features on LinkedIn such as endorsing the contact for skills, or joining groups they are a part of. Of course, be sure not to make it seem too obvious or stalker-ish. You can also like or comment on posts that they share, or congratulate them on a new job or work anniversary. Then after some time, send them a personal message on LinkedIn.
7) Ask for their advice
When reconnecting with professional contacts you haven’t spoken to in a while, it’s best not to start asking if they can help you get a job right away. But asking for professional advice on things such as your resume or a work project will probably flatter them and get the conversation going between the two of you.
Author: Jessica Cody
Jessica Cody, a native of Fairfield County, Connecticut, has a background in online marketing and public relations. Currently, she works at VHMNetwork LLC in the role of Marketing Analyst. She is a graduate of the University of Connecticut, where she studied Journalism and Political Science. She is also an avid runner with a passion for the outdoors.