Question: I worked at a large pharmaceutical corporation for many years and a deep, expert-based network. I’ve moved on and am continuing my career with a startup. My network now is definitely a lot larger and broader. In the transition to my new career, I have neglected my former, deep network of expertise! How do I refresh those contacts? Is it as easy as an email?
Answer: The short answer is…yes. It can be as easy an email (or LinkedIn connection request or handwritten note) to reconnect with a former colleague. However, before you rush off to send the “my how time flies” email to that colleague, do a little sleuthing first! Research online to see what they are up to (or what has gone on in their lives since you last worked together). Have they been promoted recently? Has their child graduated or gotten married? If you still have active mutual connections — ask them and include a personal recollection to ground your ask in a relationship not a transaction (“hey, I wanted to reconnect with Joe from accounting, what’s he up to these days as I recall he was looking to pack it in to start a coffee shop?”).
As I share at page 20 of #BYDN — don’t limit the type of network you have to one or the other! You need both a deep network and a shallow one.
A Network Alone Won’t Get You to Mars
Deep networks of close friends, mentors, and advisors are needed for feedback, guidance, and advice. Then broad, expansive networks are needed to connect to opportunities and ideas that come from outside the knowledge base or expertise of your close, inner circle. Recognize that you need both types of networks and recognize that you’ll use them differently.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a job seeker, you need to throw your networking net far and wide; otherwise you risk limiting your opportunities to the boundaries of your existing networks.