You’ve met lots of people (sometimes in very odd places), gathered lots of business cards, added tons of people to your LinkedIn, Facebook, WhatsApp, etc.
And then you never contacted them again, and vice versa.
Sometimes we treat people like clothing – we have plenty to wear in the closet, but we keep buying shiny new stuff.
Overlooked or forgotten contacts represent potential opportunities to do business, establish partnerships, or start a mentoring relationship. Instead of thinking what new person you must meet to start something, think about who you’ve already met.
But first, freshen up your socials
Before reaching out to these older contacts, update your LinkedIn profile and any other social accounts you use for your professional network. Put in your latest achievements, presentations, shout outs.
Then get to reconnecting.
Reconnecting with someone you met at a networking event
Networking events are designed for us to meet lots of people and swap contacts. That’s great, but it can add to the pile of forgotten contacts unless we follow up reasonably quickly.
Think back on who they are, what you spoke about, what drew you to each other. Check their social media accounts to find what they’ve been up to since you met. Then see how and why you should reconnect.
Message them through email, LinkedIn, Eight, etc., and be genuine and personal. For instance, you can comment on their recent accomplishment.
If you have a specific favor in mind, don’t send more than one email, which they might consider “buttering up.” Make your request up front.
Hi Jane. We met at the industry trade show last year. I just learned of your recent promotion. Congratulations!
I’m considering a career move myself, and I’d like to talk with you about the hiring process at your new company.
Can I give you a call next week for a quick chat? Let me know a date and time that work for you.
Others say the first interaction shouldn’t include an ask. It’s up to you, and you may just use this contact as a check-in, send congrats, or to share some content you genuinely think they’ll find useful.
Think about how you can help them and they’ll be way more likely to want to help you.
Reconnecting with someone you met at a party or social activity, event, etc.
If you met over drinks or some sort of non-professional gathering, it’s OK to be more casual.
Think again of how you met, what you spoke about, and whatever was going on at the event. Invite them to a similar event or one you have a mutual interest in. Or suggest a meet-up for lunch or coffee.
Research beforehand to learn more about what they do and their products or services. Have a clear idea of how you can help each other professionally, but don’t force the topic at this first encounter.
Hi Charlie. It’s been a while since we met at the homecoming game last year. Wasn’t that wild? I still can’t believe we won.
Are you going this year? If so, it’d be cool to chat with you again. How about coffee? I’m usually free on Saturday midday, or midday Thursday and Friday I get some time to get out of the office. Let me know what works for you.
Reconnecting with someone you met at a trade show or exhibition
A report found that “84 percent of trade show attendees have the power to recommend, specify, and/or make final purchasing decisions.”
Because you met in an environment where most people were buying or selling something, it can be easy to look at them as “fair game” for more transparent marketing efforts.
Don’t make that mistake.
Connect with these contacts on a personal level, as you would any other contact. Research their career on Google and social media. As usual, pick your method of contact – Eight’s great for this because you can just pull up their card.
Remind them where you met and mention a memory you may have shared there. If you have something else in common, bring that up, too.
I was at a football match and I remembered how we spoke for a good half hour about Champions League. Some great matchups this year. Are you following it?
Of course, we spoke business too, and I regret not following up with you sooner. I’d really like to get together again to discuss some of the marketing ideas we chatted about. What does your schedule look like for the next week or two?
Reconnecting with a former co-worker
Here, too, visit their social accounts for an update of what they’re doing now. But if you find they use their Facebook account mostly for personal interactions, choose a different way to connect.
Look for a Twitter account and comment there if they use it more for professional things. Otherwise, use LinkedIn or a casual email to reconnect. And of course with Eight, you know that a business-type contact is OK.
In that “keeping in touch” message, try to give them something of value, like linking to an article that might be of interest to them. If they’ve done a favor for you in the past, thank them again and update them on how it turned out.
Suggest that you’d like to catch up, either with coffee or a phone call. Be prepared with an idea of how you can help each other, but you should lead with what you can offer them.
I hope you and your family are doing well. I just learned about your promotion on LinkedIn. Congrats!
I just saw this article. I think you’ll find it useful at your new company.
I’m sure you’re busy with the changes, but it’d be great if we can catch up. Have time for a quick coffee? Wednesday or Thursday next week? Or I can just give a call. Let me know what’s good for you.
Depending on what kind of relationship you had before, an up-front ask may be totally fine, as above. Or you might ask to schedule a 15-minute call to discuss a specific topic.
Reconnecting with someone you met at [fill in the blank]
An “I thought of you today because…” email or LinkedIn message works well here.
- Remind them of where and when you met.
- Comment on something you may have in common.
- Offer something helpful like an article or an introduction.
- You could also suggest coffee, but it’s best not to have an agenda for that first interaction.
I just read your latest article on LinkedIn, and it reminded me of when we bumped into each other at the Big Brothers event last year. I hope all’s well with you and your Little Brother, Andre.
I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on mentoring young people. I came across a similar piece on the topic that I thought might interest you, so I’m passing it along. Link’s here.
I’d love to get together for lunch or coffee. Do you have any time in the next 2 weeks? Thursdays and Fridays are usually better for me. Just shoot me back a couple of times that work for you.
Think connect AND reconnect, and use a tool to help you do it
Networking is critical to your career, even when you’re not looking for a favor. It should be something you devote several hours a week to building. Schedule it in if you need to. A good business card scanner and CRM (like Eight) can make this process much more manageable. Keeping your data updated by merging duplicate accounts and ensuring fresh information will also ensure you have the latest contact details.
If you’re still using Facebook for most of your networking, consider using an app that’s designed for business only. It will help to maximize the value of your professional networking efforts by eliminating the loss of potentially valuable opportunities.