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Reconnecting with old networking contacts

Wed 16 November 2011

If you’re anything like me then the ever growing pile of business cards on your desk can look quite daunting at times.


Staying in touch with connections and networking contacts seems to get harder everyday as the pile grows. However, we must all be mindful that there is great opportunity in that ever growing pile of business cards – reconnecting with old networking contacts can be as useful and beneficial as meeting new people.


 With the invention of Linked-In it is a lot easier to rekindle relationships with connections and the ease of email and social media should mean that we keep in touch more, but we don’t – so here are five ways to reconnect with contacts and customers when you’ve been out of touch for a while...



1. Who do you know in common?


A successful way to re-establish relationships is by referring to a relationship that is more current to your old connection. This is much easier to work out with the likes of Facebook, and LinkedIn. You can very easily see who you are both linked to or both friends with on these channels. Mutual contacts can really help to build trust and rapport, and can be a natural conversation starter. Just yesterday I met with a new business contact that I thought should certainly be talking to someone I hadn’t spoken to for months. So I had to dig out their details and put them in touch. Better that, than a cold introduction.


2. What are their interests?


This is always a good place to start – finding out an interest that you might have in common or even just an interest of theirs that you can make relevant .  Again –social media can lend a helping hand here – quite often people’s profiles contain information on their specific interests. Checking out any old blog posts by them is also a good indication of what they’re interested in and what’s going on with them at the moment. So do be sure to do your research and check out their online spaces to see what’s relevant.


3 .What is their company up to?


Finding out what’s happening in their company right now is an easy way to begin re-engaging with an old connection. It shows that you’re interested in their company and the work it does and there’s usually always plenty for both of you to say on this topic.  Particularly useful if you’ve seen a newsletter of theirs and it’s advising you of something that you think could be useful to one of your contacts. Again, put the two in touch. This will grow your reputation as a great networker.


4. Where did you leave things?


If it’s a weak link or a very old relationship that ties you to this connection – it’s a good idea to mention where you left off when you reacquaint.  What was the last conversation you had with them? Who had introduced you? If you met them only briefly, where was it and what did you talk about? This also helps to avoid the awkward moment when they admit they actually can’t remember you – it should jog their memory about your last meeting.  So, always add some context. You’ll notice how this bugs you on LinkedIn. Often we get asked to connect with someone but they don’t personalise their message – so it looks like spam, so instead, we ignore people we have genuinely met. Always add context both online and offline – particularly if it’s been a while.



5. Asking for advice


Sending an old connection a message asking for advice on something in their field or expertise is a clever way to spark a new conversation. They will feel flattered that you consider them an expert (they say that flattery gets you nowhere but we all know that’s not true!) and hopefully be keen to offer their knowledge in what could become an ongoing conversation.


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