It’s so important to build community as you follow your career journey. But what about the other parts of your network? How do you reconnect with contacts you like but have lost touch with?
Today we have a question about maintaining connections from Work Bigger reader Karoline. Karoline asks:
My purpose is to improve the world through healthier, more sustainable foods. When I was looking for work in the natural foods space, I started to build a network of people driven toward the same purpose. However, I now work for a large food organization where natural food is not necessarily the main focus.
How do I continue to keep in touch and build valuable relationships with the people I met, given that my purpose doesn’t fully align with the work I’m doing at the moment?
When you’re in “pursuit mode” – pursuing a new job, launching an idea, looking for freelance work – you reach out and speak to so many different people.
When you’re not, you may wonder which relationships are worthwhile to maintain. I hear this question a lot in my work and have had it myself.
Have you had trouble knowing when is the right time to reconnect with people in your network? If so, I want you to read this article.
These three things can help you make and maintain authentic, conscientious connections.
Be genuine in your pursuit to build and maintain a network.
Before you reach out to an old contact, ask yourself: Why do I want to stay connected to this person? What’s the benefit now and in the long term?
Connecting with people because of their position or network won’t necessarily help you in a meaningful, authentic way.
If you do really like this person and want to keep pursuing your purpose, now or later, and feel a deeper connection will serve you both, then you have two genuine reasons to keep them in your network.
Be intentional with your outreach.
Is there a contact you want to reconnect but feel unsure about how to start the conversation?
Perhaps you have an immediate goal, like continuing to work toward your purpose, either through your current company or outside your day-to-day work. You may, instead, be thinking long-term and want to pick up your purpose-driven work in a year or two from now, when your schedule and career position permit.
Once you’re clear on this, reach out to see if this contact would be open to a call or a reconnection. Be honest about where you are and what you’re looking to do now or a few years from now.
To make the conversation valuable, consider these questions:
- Is there an opportunity for you to learn from each other? If so, what are the knowledge gaps you can fill?
- Can you do anything to support this person’s purpose today by offering an opportunity through the work you’re currently doing?
- Is there a way for you to align your current position with your contact’s world?
If there is no immediate or long-term benefit to staying in touch, and if you can’t answer the above right now, it’s better to hold off until you have a concrete reason to reconnect.
You may feel pressure to stay in “pursuit mode” even when you’re not starting something new. Take a deep breath when you’re overwhelmed. Remember that meaningful connections are made when you’re authentic, and you’re more likely to get results when you have a specific ask.
Be mindful in your networking strategy.
If it’s not time to reach out yet, stay connected on LinkedIn, Twitter, or another social media platform where you’re both active. Share content and information in a way that helps you continue the conversation.
It’s easy to stay in touch on a social network where you can follow that contact’s work and like or comment on their posts and events. It’s a low-pressure way of building a relationship because it shows you’re paying attention and interested in their work but doesn’t require you to ask for time or something else from them.
You’ll also see when they share questions or needs. For example, they may be looking for a new opportunity or looking to connect with someone you may know. This is a great way to see how you can add value and makes it easier to reach out when it’s time to make your specific ask.
Most importantly, have faith that your purpose-driven work will lead you on the right path and enable you to grow an effective, sustainable network with meaningful relationships.