Expert Panel, Forbes Coaches Council
It's often said that success is all about who you know. This is especially true when it comes to your career: Knowing the right person at the right company can open the door to your dream job opportunity.
But what happens if you've lost touch with professional contacts you were close with in the past? It can be awkward (and a turn-off) to reach out to someone after months or years of not speaking and ask for help, so it's important to go about rekindling old networking relationships the right way.
If you're back on the job market and looking to get back in touch with former contacts, follow these tips provided by Forbes Coaches Council.
1. Consider Their Potential Needs
Do your research about what the people in your network are doing and what they need. Do not just blast out a needs-based email, InMail or social media post. Your network often wants to know what's positive, what's new, and then, perhaps, where they can help. Connect with them based on their current status, their needs then bring up your need to reconnect later and after the reconnection. - John M. O'Connor, Career Pro Inc.
2. Make It Easy For Them To Support You
Two things are important in your initial message to members of your network. First, remind them of a warm memory the two of you share from your work or personal lives. Second, be very specific with your ask. Is there an introduction you want? A job at their company you're interested in? If asking for a meeting, provide dates and times they can select from. It is your job to do the legwork. - Tegan Trovato, Bright Arrow Coaching
3. Ask For Insights, Not A Job
Reach out to a contact for thoughts or insights about their company, industry, or where they see a specific job field moving. Don't ask them about a job. People enjoy talking when they are viewed as knowledgeable, and they will always ask why you're interested. Then and only then is it appropriate to tell them you are looking for something new, but don't ask for help. If they want to help, they will offer. - Lesha Reese, Lesha Reese, LLC
4. Request A Catch-Up Meeting
Don't let fear or uncertainty stand in your way. You can send a LinkedIn connection request that reads, "It has been a long time since we last spoke, and I thought I would reach out to reconnect and get together for coffee or a chat." The holidays are a particularly easy time to reconnect and open the conversation the exact same way. These two simple reconnection techniques have worked for many. - Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
5. Research What They've Been Up To
Do your research on how their career or interests have progressed by checking out their LinkedIn feed and articles or even searching their name online to see what comes up. That's a great ice breaker to start communicating. You should never lead with your needs and what you're looking for. Come from a genuine place of wanting to reconnect and see what opportunities develop. - Niya Allen-Vatel, Career Global
6. Be Honest About Your Needs
Many times people reach out and dance around the issue. I prefer that people be upfront about what they need. Start out with a, "Hey, how are you doing?" and then be honest about your need, and ask if they or someone they know may be able to help you. You also need to be upfront with yourself about your actual need and have an understanding of who can help you then target those persons. - LaKesha Womack, Womack Consulting Group
7. Make It Personal
Customize every contact with former colleagues or friends, no matter how long it's been. Anything sounding like an email blast or copy/paste job is not going to be as welcoming. Acknowledge it's been a while and you'd value their time/insights. Offer to buy them lunch, drinks or coffee in return for hearing about their experiences, asking them questions or entertaining their thoughts. - Joanne Markow, GreenMason
8. Boost Your LinkedIn Presence Before You Reach Out
It's time to get active on LinkedIn. If you are openly on the job market, spend the first few weeks showcasing the latest knowledge you have gained by providing case studies or examples of how you achieved outcomes for your previous employer and their clients. Quickly identify key influencers in your profession, then engage with their content on LinkedIn. - Tyron Giuliani, Selling Made Social
9. Find New Professionals To Connect With
Research professional networking events to reconnect with old colleagues and find new friends. While some networks maintain contact throughout the years, many diversify or move on. Don't get stuck in the past. Move forward by making new contacts in your profession or geographic area. There are many breakfast, lunch or evening networking events. Schedule a few every month. - Frances McIntosh, Intentional Coaching LLC
10. Share Your Time And Knowledge
It is the perfect opportunity to serve your network. Look for ways to offer advice and share an article you think would be of interest. As an active job hunter, being current on industry trends and information can help you and your network. Share what you are finding. As you give, you will naturally be in touch with the people that can help you. Trust that the right reciprocal help will find you. - Jennifer Thompson, Deviant Thinking
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