Recently I’ve figured out that during my 15-year professional career, I changed seven workplaces. It’s not a problem because changing jobs every 2-3 years is a common trend in the modern world. You live each subsequent workplace as a better version of yourself with new skills, new experiences, and new contacts gained. New skills and new experience make you a more valuable employee on a labor market and allow you to move up the career ladder. But what about contacts? Well, they may be even more precious than skills if appropriately leveraged. So it makes sense to keep in touch with your former colleagues. Let’s see why.
Why it makes sense to keep in touch with your former colleagues
Before we dive into the reasons for staying connected with your ex-colleagues, I’d like to make a caveat that here I don’t mean building a relationship of friendship with any of your colleagues. Why we make and keep friends with people is a topic for another article. Here I consider the situation when you had a good working relationship with your colleagues and parted as good buddies.
There are several reasons why it may be useful for you to stay in touch with your former teammates:
- They may give you a referral to a new job. When you’re applying for a job, your employer may ask you to provide any contacts who can provide feedback on your work and confirm that you have specific skills. Your former colleagues are the best candidates to provide this referral, especially those with whom you are on good terms.
- They may bring you a new career opportunity. It may turn out that your former colleagues will be able to offer you an exciting opportunity or recommend you to a new position in their new company.
- You may rejoin later. Life is unpredictable, and it’s possible that you reconnect with your former colleague either at a previous workplace or at a new one. If you kept good contact during the time you were apart, you would have no issues with re-building your relationships in the new circumstances.
Now when it’s clear why it makes sense to stay in touch with your former colleagues, I provide recommendations on how to reach out to them without being annoying.
How to keep in touch with your former colleagues:
Keeping in touch with your former colleagues is not as easy as it may seem. If you reach out to your ex-colleagues out of the blue, the reaction may be surprisingly cold, even if you were the best friends at your workplace, and you’re reaching them out with good intention. Contacting your former colleague after you parted should be a reason unless you’re best friends for life. Otherwise, they will be perplexed and concerned by your sudden contact. Let’s see how to stay in touch with your former teammates and not to be annoying.
Connect on social media
Nowadays, social media sites such as LinkedIn or Facebook provide an excellent opportunity for maintaining your contacts. Connecting on social media allows you to stay visible for your сomrades, at the same time being aware of any updates from their professional lives. I recommend LinkedIn because it is designed for connecting professionals and features a lot of corresponding options, such as the possibility to give an online recommendation to your colleagues and endorse their skills. However, if you connect on Facebook or any other popular website, which allows you to stay in touch, that’s completely fine.
Connecting on LinkedIn is only the first step for keeping contact. Let’s see what you can do next.
Share useful information
Adding your ex-colleague to your LinkedIn or Facebook contacts keeps a passive connection between both of you. It’s like adding your colleague’s phone number to your contact list. You may use this contact only in case of need. But if you really need to stay in touch with your teammates with the help of social media, you have to be more proactive. One of the ways to do this is by sharing professional information that may be of interest to your fellow colleagues. You may share it as a post on social media, hoping that your friends will notice and appreciate it. However, you may run an extra mile and reach out to your former colleagues via direct messages if you have exciting things to share.
Congratulate on achievements
A good way to stay connected with your former colleagues is to congratulate them on their achievements, such as promotion, a new job, passing a certification, etc. When you see that your ex-colleague shared on their social media profile page some exciting news that they’re proud of, it’s a good chance to remind him of you and start the conversation by praising him. Even a simple compliment in comments to the original post will put some extra coins in your karma bank.
Attend professional events together
Another way to keep in touch with your ex-colleagues is by attending professional conferences or meetups. If you know that an upcoming event may be of interest to both you and your former colleague, you may send him the information about this event and suggest meeting there.
Professional events may also be useful when you are deliberately seeking a meeting with your former colleague, but don’t know how to get it. In this case, you may learn from social media that your colleague is going to some event, and then you’ll register to this event to meet your target person and discuss your business.
Ask for advice
Many people hesitate to ask for advice from other people because this makes them feel indebted. Also, it is quite uncomfortable for many of us to ask people for anything because we are afraid of being rejected. However, there is an opposite opinion: when you ask people for advice or a favor, most of them will happily agree to help you because this makes them feel valuable.
So, don’t hesitate to ask your former colleagues for advice as it is a good and easy way to keep in contact with them. Even if you (and they) think that you owe them something after consulting, it’s not a bad thing at all. You may pay them off later, and this will only strengthen your relationships.
Invite them to your city or visit theirs
If you’re moving to another city when changing jobs, you may suggest your former colleagues visiting you at your new location. The probability of such a visit though is not high and depends on the tourist attractiveness of the city you’re living in. However, as I’ve mentioned, life is unpredictable. When you’re visiting a strange city either as a tourist or as a business trip destination, it’s always good to have some familiar person, who can give you advice on places to visit, show you the city or with whom you can have dinner at a local cafe. And this is a good way to reconnect with your ex-colleagues and old friends.
Similarly, if you are close enough with a particular colleague, you may give him a heads-up before you’re coming to their city and propose a hangout.
These are some ways to keep in touch with your former colleagues that I could think about. If you can suggest anything else, please, comment.