We have all been in a similar situation – one day we emerge from a deep networking slumber, and realise that we haven’t done our professional networking in a while. But if you haven’t spoken to a contact since the last decade, what sort of magic, wordplay and tactics will you use to reconnect?
If you have been one of those uberly-friendly ones who always manage to drop a “hello” or two to every contact on your database, then a great relationship with one of your former clients is solid – and it’s easy to pick up the phone and chat. But when it comes to networking with the less well-known contacts, even the most extroverted professional can feel a little bit wary and shy.
You want to remind them of your existence, which will make them think of you first the next time a project comes up. But how do you do this? Try one of the following “excuses” to reach out – and see if it works!
Tell them that your contact details have changed – and that they may be trying to reach you to no avail. When you have a change of address, email or phone, it’s the best excuse in the world to reach out to your contacts. Avoid sending potential clients a blanket notice and instead use the opportunity to initiate a real conversation. You could use developments in company/department (a new president, a newly- launched product) as a good opportunity to greet them for their good fortune. Send a note of sincere congratulations when you see that your contact’s organisation had an important news event – it will help them think of your services the next time they have a news event!
Use the power of the internet! Use Google, Twitter or LinkedIn to find out if you have up-to-date contact information on your old network. Utilise these sites for additional information on what your contact is working on today. However, if you are requesting to follow a contact on Twitter, or be their friend on Facebook, you need to make sure you send them a message with the request. Mention that you can’t believe you have not been socially linked before and ask about what they are working on. You may also search for blogs and online journals. By finding a contact’s blog online you are able to catch up on all the events that have taken place in their lives since you last spoke. An easy way to reconnect through blogs is by leaving a personal comment about a recent post. Let the person know you have been following their work online but would love to see them in person.
Remind the contact where they met you – and that you still are interested in connecting. Always begin a letter, email or Facebook message with a short introduction of how you met and why you were thankful for the introduction. Were they a professor for your first-year biology class? Tell them that you were recently reviewing your old papers and found work you completed in their class. Were they introduced to you at a networking event? Remind them of how great it was to meet there and how much you appreciated learning about their business. If you do not paint a memory for them of who you were and how you met, they may not feel obligated to call you back. One tip though – f the last time you connected with this contact was 20 years ago – never ever comment on how much they have changed (especially if they have lost that full head of hair). Do so and you might find yourself losing this contact forever.