We all get so busy especially as we move on with our lives that we often lose sight or contact with those colleagues we once shared daily stories or experiences with. I’m a firm believer that we are all separated by a few degrees so rebuilding these relationships can open up opportunities to learn or assist someone. I cannot count the times I have been talking to someone who connects the dots with a former colleague. It’s a much smaller world than we think and with the only constant being change, it’s important to stay connected.
There are a few reasons why maintaining these connections are essential for career growth.
1. They have valuable information to share
An old colleague is a great resource. If they happen to be working at a new company or have been at a few since you last communicated with them, they have lots of great information to share. They will have valuable insights about the company they are currently working for or others. There is information about the culture, specific departments, roles, leaders and overall benefits that can be shared and would not be accessible via the traditional channels. Human resource departments can only provide some insight but the important unfiltered information can come from this type of resource.
2. They can serve as a referral if a connection exists
Referrals definitely have more weight if you can provide specific information as to why the candidate you are referring is a good fit for the position. I can attest from working at organizations of all sizes that when an opportunity for a new position opens up, the number one request of internal colleagues is to provide a referral. Another interesting thing to note is that if you happen to apply at an organization and the hiring manager knows a colleague who came from that organization, they will ask for insight. It happens all the time. So keep in mind that if a mutual connection exists between the hiring manager and candidate, it will be used in gaining insight.
3. You can seek input and/or advice
A former colleague who has made one or more transitions since you last worked together has a unique perspective on making the change from your current company to a new one. Change is scary and having someone to bounce off ideas or ask questions is invaluable because they will understand your concerns or needs more than others.
The goal is to assure yourself that you are being as resourceful as possible in keeping your connections close. As you grow and move to different positions or organizations, so do your former colleagues and along with these moves goes your reputation and experience with those colleagues. In my experience working closely with entrepreneurs in a small office to a company of 80,000 plus, it’s extremely risky to invest in someone that you don’t have enough information about other than a resume and interview so that is why keeping connections is so vital. I challenge you to reach out to a former colleague and begin connecting.
If you have a question or are interested in learning more, connect with me.