When I ask jobseekers how they plan on reconnecting with old contacts, I usually hear this: I will let them know I am no longer at company X, and I will ask them to keep their eyes and ears open for me. Yikes! How would you feel if someone you hadn’t spoken to in a while reached out and the first thing they did was ask for help? Put upon? Used? Rushed?
Yes, lots of people do this (but it’s still annoying). Yes, this is a tough market, so it’s more understandable why people are asking for help (but it still feels intrusive). The first time you reconnect, it cannot be about your job search. You cannot ask for anything that first time, except how the other person is doing. The point of reconnecting is to reestablish the relationship. The other person is the focus and by listening to them and being interested, you actually help yourself because you will learn about what’s going on in the market and what people care about and you can act on this LATER.
This is why maintaining your network is so critical when you don’t need anything. It takes the time pressure off of you to accomplish anything. But if you’ve waited till you’re in need to work on your network, then you have to self-discipline yourself to still make those early contacts about your network and not about yourself. One good exercise: take 3-5 contacts per day and just say hello. This gets you in the habit of regularly reaching out to your network, so that when you actually have a question to ask or even a favor, the request isn’t the only time you have reached out.
Another tip: when using LinkedIn, remind people how you know each other. Don’t use those template connection invitations. Make it a personal message about where you met, when you last spoke, or something else that shows genuine interest. Put an updated and professional-looking picture of yourself so that old connections who may have forgotten your name can recognize you visually.
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