Networking is a valuable tool for achieving professional success, from job hunting to getting helpful career advice to simply learning from other perspectives. When you’re trying to build your network, a great place to start is with people you already know – former colleagues. Reconnect with former colleagues to grow your network with these tips:
Be a Giver, Not a Taker
Your first point of contact after having been out of touch for a while shouldn’t immediately be for you to ask a favor. If you want to genuinely reconnect with old colleagues in a meaningful way, consider what you can give to them. Examples include: An article that you thought they’d find interesting, a job post they might want to pursue, or simply showing interest and asking how they’re doing.
Engage on Social Media
A simple way to transition into reestablishing a relationship with former colleagues is to start engaging with them on social media. Commenting on their posts is a casual way to start a dialogue with them, which you can allow to blossom organically into a closer connection.
Bring Up Shared Memories
If you’re looking for a specific topic to use as an opener when reaching out to former colleagues, bring up shared memories. Saying something about how you remember something they taught you, a funny story, or anything else that they may look back on with fondness is a great opener to an email message and will make them more inclined to want to reconnect.
Ask for Their Expertise
Another icebreaker to use to reach out to former colleagues you want to add into your network is to ask for their expertise. Whether it’s advice on how to break into their industry or about a specific project you’re working on that they also have experience in, sending a quick message requesting their insight demonstrates that you respect their talent and skills and may make feel flattered and look forward to reconnecting.
Request a Face-to-Face Catch Up
Perhaps the most effective way to reconnect with former colleagues and grow your network is to meet up face-to-face. After you’ve casually chatted via other means, ask if they would like to get coffee or lunch. Relationships that make their way into the “real world” and not just behind screens will likely be more mutually beneficial and authentic.
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