Reaching out to former professional connections can feel awkward. But Inc. reports that it is what they call your “dormant ties,” or the people you used to know but don’t keep in touch with, that actually offer the best potential for your network. How can you make the most of these old professional connections, and really, why would you want to?
Should You Contact Old Professional Connections?
The Value of Your Dormant Ties
If you stayed in touch with all of the people you’ve run across in the business world, your professional network would encompass thousands of people. Maintaining a network of this size would be incredibly time-consuming. So, most people naturally lose connections over time, creating a hidden network of dormant connections that have value if you know how to reconnect. There are a few ways you can do this. For example:
- You could ask for advice. Maybe you used to ask this contact for advice all the time in the past. Maybe you’ve just fallen out of touch over the years. Perhaps something in your current professional world reminded you of your old colleague. You could say something like, “I know that we’ve fallen out of contact over the years but I remembered the great advice you used to share. I wondered if we could find the time to reconnect soon?”
- You could simply ask to reconnect. Social media is set up to allow for these kinds of conversations to occur. LinkedIn is a social network made for these kinds of reach outs. If you’re already connected to the person but want to strengthen the tie, consider endorsing the old colleague. Send them a note saying how you remember them from the past and would like to chat by phone for 15- minutes or so to reconnect. If you follow an old connection on Twitter, LinkedIn, or another social network, start the process of reconnecting by becoming more active. Respond to posts from the former colleagues that you’re trying to reconnect with. One note of caution: If you notice that the colleague is on social but the account is personal and not for business, refrain from contacting them. Respect their boundaries.
How to Approach an Old Connection
Work on your approach so that it doesn’t seem like you’re just reconnecting to use the contact for something. Make sure you find a reason for reaching out that is beneficial for them as well as you.
Also, when reaching out, lead with how you know them. Don’t assume that they remember you.
The biggest rule of thumb for reenergizing your languishing contacts is, once you’ve made the connection again, don’t let it fade away. We recommend a recruiter trick to have one or two “virtual coffees” with your network to catch up every week. Also, work on the social posts your colleagues share, recommend them, and introduce them virtually to other connections in your network. Set a goal for yourself to work on your network two hours a week, at minimum, and you will be shocked at how quickly it will build into an active, robust, and fulfilling pipeline.
Ready To Reach Old To an Old Professional Connection?
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