Old connections are vital to your network. Find out who you should reconnect with and how to rekindle those contacts to grow your career.
Connecting with others can truly help increase your overall feeling of self-worth and purpose. It can also lower stress, help us live longer, and decrease our risk of isolation and depression. But what about using those connections to grow your career?
When we think of work connections, an image of a networking event with everyone shaking hands and engaging in awkward small talk might pop into your mind. But that's not always what effective networking looks like.
In this article, we’ll explain why networking matters and offer some top tips for reviving old connections that might just help your career.
"Old" connections are the people we have identified, liked, and shared a genuine connection with at some point in the past. These connections may be colleagues from prior jobs, classmates, teammates, or just people you've met whose company you enjoyed in the past.
These connections are incredibly important to growing and maintaining your personal and professional network. David Burkus, a networking specialist, revealed in a recent Ted Talk:
"Networking comes not from reaching out to total strangers, but to old friends."
He shared that lost connections are the friends you used to be close with, but you don't talk to as much anymore for whatever reason. Although it’s easy to let a connection slip away, maintaining it takes time and effort, just like a friendship.
Maintaining old connections is particularly important now and into the future because even though your contacts might not be able to help immediately with your job search or other aspects of your career, they may one day.
So why should you consider growing your network with old connections in the first place?
A strong network can provide you with new job opportunities. You may hear about an open position you wouldn’t have come across otherwise. According to a HubSpot survey, 85% of job positions are filled through personal and professional connections.
But network connections can also help you build long-lasting relationships that can increase your influence in your industry. The more people you know, the more likely you are to get referred for a new job opportunity. You’ll also have more people who can provide references after a successful job interview.
With more influence and more contacts, you’ll have increased self-confidence, which will also help you stand out as a strong candidate. In this way, networking opens the door not just for job opportunities but for personal growth, too.
You may be thinking you have to start reaching out to every person you know or everyone on all of your social networks. But that’s not true.
All it takes is a few rekindled connections to get the ball going. Take a few minutes and make a list of three or four people you haven't spoken to in a while. Scroll down your friend list on Facebook or check your old texts.
While it can be helpful to have something specific to talk about, don’t let not knowing exactly what you want to talk about prevent you from making that first reconnection. Just focus on reaching out and saying hello! From there, see where the conversation goes.
Reconnecting is not as hard as it seems! Even if you are not overly outgoing or you’re nervous to ask for help, it’s possible to create that connection. A simple "hello, how have you been?" works wonders as a simple way to reach out to your past connection and get the conversation started. More often than not, that connection will feel lucky that out of everyone else, you chose them to strike up a conversation.
Once you have reached out to your past connection, it's time to look into their connections. This can be done by reaching out and saying, "Hi, I see that you are connected to (name the person you know), and I was wondering if you knew anyone in the (fill in the industry or company here) that you could introduce me to?" It’s that simple to ask for an introduction to someone.
Look through your contact’s friend list or connections on Jobcase. Take note of any people they know who work somewhere that interests you. You should also take note of their current colleagues since those people are likely to still be in close contact with the person you know.
At that point, your contact may decide to introduce you via email, in a chat, or arrange an in-person meeting. In any case, make sure you introduce yourself to these new contacts.
Before you meet in person or start a conversation online, make sure to do your research on this new person. You’ll be able to find conversation topics to break the ice, especially if you have something in common. In some cases, they may have recently accomplished something that you can congratulate them on.
You may be surprised at the connections they have and how they can help! It may not necessarily always be about who YOU know, but about who your connections know, so don't overlook them.
Now you’re ready to reach back out to your old connections. Here are six actionable tips to help you get it done.
Don’t know how to break the ice with an old connection?
Reintroduce yourself with a positive anecdote or memory from your relationship. For instance, if you know this person from a sports team, you can remind them of the last tournament you both participated in. You can then follow it up by asking what they’re up to nowadays.
It’s not enough to just reach out and ask how someone is doing. While that can spark a conversation in some cases, other relationships will need more momentum to get brought back to life.
Instead, go into this with a specific goal. Make the new contact actionable.
For example, you can let them know you heard they were looking for a job and that you’re available if they need a reference. Additionally, you can ask them for something, too. Whether you want to catch up over coffee or get introduced to someone else, just make sure your request is specific enough.
Don’t come across as too needy when you get in touch with your old connection. Search this person on social media and check if they have a Jobcase account if you aren’t already connected to them.
See what they’re doing right now. Maybe they’re looking for new opportunities or compiling some research and would appreciate your input. You never know what needs you could uncover that you’d be able to help with.
If you do your research, you may uncover a recent achievement your connection has made. Use this opportunity as an icebreaker to reintroduce yourself.
It’s better to lead with this than with what you need. They’ll know that you took the time to look them up and get informed on what’s going on in their lives. Plus, everyone appreciates getting recognized for their accomplishments.
Reviving an old connection isn’t the moment to ask for a job. Instead, ask them about their industry, company, and what’s happening in those areas of their lives.
See if you can tap into their knowledge — or if you can provide your own insights for them.
If you’re not yet connected to an old contact, make sure you do some housekeeping before you initiate that connection.
Update your Jobcase profile so that it’s up to date with your latest certifications, goals, and job history. Upload your latest resume as well. Add your most valuable skills to your profile in case that person is looking for someone with your particular set of skills.
When you reach out and they find you on Jobcase, they’ll see the most up-to-date version of your profile. They won’t have to assume things that are no longer true or relevant about you.
Not sure where you can start rekindling old connections? A great place to begin is by connecting with friends you haven’t talked to in a while, but also the friends of your friends. You could also consider the following people in your life to make new connections or revive old ones:
People you’ve worked with before or are currently working with: co-workers, colleagues, managers, supervisors, or employees
Past or present clients and customers: for example, someone you babysat for or who hired you to mow the lawn
Business associates: if you’ve run a small business like lawn care or shoveling services, reach out to the people who collaborated with you to provide these services
Alumni of your school: you can reach out to people who attended your high school, trade school, or college
Acquaintances from your personal life
Acquaintances of your spouse or your family
People from your church, gym, yoga studio, or community organization
Past or present teachers or professors, coaches, and mentors
Because people are social by nature, everyone you know will also know other people. And every individual has a different set of life experiences, connections, and points of view. You never know what someone else may have to offer you if you just take the time to say hello or ask!