Did you recently make a new professional connection? These days, it’s easier than ever to meet like-minded people in your industry thanks to networking apps like Shapr; but what do you do after you meet a contact that you click with? Or better yet, what are the golden rules for staying in touch with professional contacts from your past, like former colleagues or bosses?
The problem that many people face with networking is that there isn’t always a call to action or protocol for how often you should touch base with professional connections when you don’t necessarily plan to work together in the immediate future. We tackle the how, when and what to discuss with professional contacts to stay top of mind, without coming on too strong in our tips below.
Keep in Loose Touch:
One of our favorite rules for keeping your professional connections engaged is Karen Wickre’s concept of ‘keeping in loose touch’. Keeping in loose touch is the act of popping up in someone’s mind (or smart-phone screen) every so often in order to build a casual relationship through infrequent interactions.
One of the smartest ways to do this is to set a reminder to reach out to your contacts by way of a Personal CRM like UpHabit. With UpHabit you can set reminders to reach out to someone in pre-defined frequencies (like every 2 weeks) to help ensure that you don’t lose touch with them. More tips on what you can say when you do reach out below.
If you’re looking to stay in loose touch with someone, start by taking a look at the calendar. Birthdays and holidays are easy and safe reminders to reach out to someone by way of a simple greeting. Aside from that, one of the easiest ways to build upon your relationships is to bring up topics of interest or events that your contact has mentioned in the past. Make a note about the company they work for or their area of expertise, and break the ice by sending your contact an article that you think they’d be interested in.
Unless you have super-human memory, one of the easiest ways to keep track of what makes your contact tick is to take notes about your conversations. This sneaky trick shows your contact that you’re really paying attention and that you value what they have to say. Generally speaking, we tend to cover a lot of new and interesting ground in an initial interaction. Top networkers take a few minutes to jot down points of interest about their new contacts and refer to them the next time they speak. You can easily keep these notes and an on-going record of what you covered in all conversations in the notes section of your UpHabit contact.
How Often Should You Connect:
One of the best pieces of advice that we got about networking is to “reach out when you don’t need something so that the person will be available if there’s ever a time you do”. If you’re looking to build a genuine connection with someone, it’s recommended that you reach out to them about once every quarter (2 -3 months) minimum. This time-frame is a great rule of thumb for maintaining professional connections like former bosses, mentors, professors or colleagues. But of course, every relationship differs depending on the person.
Not sure what to write when you reach out to a new contact you haven’t spoken to in a while? We created this handy template to get you started. Naturally, you’ll want to adopt this text to fit your tone and writing style, but this is a good place to get started. Another important thing to remember is before you reach out, ask yourself what the most natural medium to engage with your contact is. Would it make the most sense to contact them via email, text message or to pick up the phone? Only you know the answer to that.
Message to professional contact:
Hi Contact Name!
Hope you’re doing well! If I remember correctly, last time you spoke, you mentioned that you’re interested in learning more about subject of interest (example: machine learning, SEO, drop-shipping). I just had the chance to read this article that I think you’d find interesting too: link to article. Would love to talk more about this and generally catch up when you’re free.
Keep in touch,
Manage Your Contacts:
As mentioned above, it’s important to keep your contact information fresh, especially when communication isn’t necessarily frequent. After your next interaction, take a few minutes to jot down some notes about your conversations and update important information about the person, like change or workplace, social media handles or interesting details you can bring up in the future like upcoming travel plans. You never know when you’ll need to reach out to them again, and it’s best to be ready when you do reconnect.