Reconnect with someone in your network with these two steps:
1. Don’t pretend that no time has passed. Instead of ignoring the elephant in the room, give the time lapse some rationale.
Example: “Patricia, how are you? I’m sure you’re surprised to hear from me. The last time we spoke I was headed off to graduate school. I wound up moving to Washington, D.C., shortly thereafter, where I’ve been for the past five years.”
2. Explain the “why now?” Include the event that prompted you to get back in touch.
Example: “After leaving the firm following the birth of my daughter, I recently came back online and I’m thrilled to be working with the consumer retail sector again. I was hoping you’d have time to sit down for coffee and catch up. I’d love to hear your perspective on how the industry has changed.”
Is there something you can do for your contact in return? Say it. They’ll be more likely to accept your overtures.
— Adapted from “How to Renew Contact After a Time Lapse,” Alexandra Levit’s Water Cooler Wisdom.
Value of 'connectors'
Research shows that most professionals landed their jobs through a “personal connection.” The twist is that 80% of those hires came through people they barely knew.
Good friends are good for a lot of things, but not jobs, because they know the same folks you do. Those who shine at making connections know lots of people and function the same way a node does in a computer network, routing reams of new data to the right recipients. How can you find these connectors?
Tip: Trace how you met the 40 people you call your friends. You’ll find the same names popping up.
Once you’ve found them, reconnect. Tell them what kinds of work you’re interested in and ask if they know anyone with similar interests.
— Adapted from “The Connectors,” by Jeff Howe, Wired; and The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell, Little, Brown.