By Crystal Cory
You might have met them at a conference and had an excellent conversation about your field of interest. Maybe you happened upon them at a coffee shop and connected over your work. You could have met them at a career fair and promised to stay in touch after learning that your values align with their organization.
The problem? That was over a year ago.
Now you’re here, thinking about that one person who could help you take that next step, and worried about how awkward it might be to reach out after all this time. How are you supposed to take that next step? Check out these strategies to minimize awkwardness and maximize success.
1. Send them a relevant article or piece of information
Regardless of industry, something is always happening. New technology is developed, policies are changed, trends are discovered, and more. A neutral way to restart that conversation is to find something that you think is interesting, or something particularly relevant to the other person, and share it with them. You could send something like:
“Hey [person]! I just saw this article and think it’s really interesting. I thought that you might [reason they would be interested in it as well]. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!”
Once you get the conversation going again about the article, you can then pivot to catching up. This could look like continuing to communicate via email/LinkedIn, or even scheduling a quick chat in person if they are local. Having reestablished connection will then allow you to more comfortably ask for help.
2. Connect with them on something they’ve done recently
If you’re connected on LinkedIn, you might check out their recent activity. Have they commented something that got your attention? Celebrated a work anniversary? Written a post or article? Anything like that is fair game to reach out about. Maybe you could send something like this:
“Hey [person]! I just saw that you [celebrated an anniversary/commented something thoughtful/etc.]. I think that [your thoughts on whatever their activity is]. This also made me realize it’s been awhile since we’ve chatted – would you be interested in catching up? Let me know if you have time!”
This shows the other person that you’re paying attention to their activity, even if you haven’t been engaging with them directly. From here, you can set up a time to continue the conversation about their activity, or just set up a time to catch up. Either way, you’re bridging the gap to reconnection.
3. Own that it’s been awhile
Sometimes naming the fact that you haven’t talked with them for a while can help to dispel the awkwardness. At the end of the day, life happens, school gets in the way, and there are so many other reasons why you might have fallen out of touch. You could maybe send a message like this to name the time gap, and try to reconnect:
“Hey [person]! I realized today that it’s been [time frame] since we’ve chatted. Isn’t that crazy? It would be great if we could find some time to chat and catch up! I’ve [been going through some transitions/been getting ready for my next steps/thinking about a change/whatever you want to chat about] and would love to get your perspective on it. Let me know if you have time!”
By letting them know that you know it’s been a while since you’ve connected, you’re pointing out the elephant in the room. You’re also showing them that you’re eager to reconnect and still value their advice.
As I said before, people fall out of touch all the time for a variety of reasons. If there is someone that you think could help you move onto the next step, don’t let a stale connection prevent you from reaching out. A quick conversation can refresh the relationship and lead to valuable conversations.