To keep an object moving, you have to continually add small amounts of energy to overcome friction, drag, and other forces. The same is true of professional relationships. If you continually put in a small amount of effort, the relationship will move forward. But if you stop putting in the energy, the relationship will slow down and eventually stop, and it will take a lot of effort to get it moving in the right direction again.
It’s much easier to contact someone when you are offering information rather than asking for something. If you give on a regular basis, your colleagues will look forward to hearing from you instead of dreading your calls because you contact them only when you want something.
Here are 25 reasons to get in touch with a former colleague:
▸ I saw an article about this topic, and it reminded me of our conversation.
▸ I know your son or daughter is about to start school/graduate from college, and I wanted to see how you’re doing.
▸ I saw these in the store, and it reminded me of how much you like them.
▸ I am about to graduate, and I wanted to thank you for getting me started on this path.
▸ I have come to realize you were right on that idea we argued about.
▸ I heard from a mutual friend that you got married/graduated, and I want to tell you how happy I am to hear this!
▸ I saw that you published a new paper. Congratulations!
▸ I was organizing my desk and admiring that gift you gave me.
▸ I wanted to let you know how that project turned out.
▸ I ran into one of your students.
▸ I’m going to be in your city.
▸ I’m going to the ACS national/regional meeting and would love to meet you there.
▸ I saw on LinkedIn/Twitter/Facebook that you are doing something new.
▸ There’s a new café near your office; want to meet for coffee and check it out?
▸ I started a new project and am using some of the things I learned on the last project we worked on together.
▸ I met someone new whom I think you’d enjoy meeting.
▸ I was searching old e-mails, and I came across one from you.
▸ I attended an event where they did something that I knew you’d think was a great/horrible idea.
▸ I had lunch at that place we used to eat at together, and it reminded me that we haven’t talked in a while.
▸ Someone came to me with a problem, and I gave him/her the same advice you once gave me.
▸ Happy birthday/anniversary/Independence Day!
▸ How is your research project going?
▸ Your city has been in the news lately; are you involved in that issue? Are you safe?
▸ I heard a song/saw a TV program that I thought you’d like.
▸ I read this article in C&EN about reconnecting with former colleagues, and it made me realize how long it’s been since we talked. I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to lately.
Get involved in the discussion. The ACS Career Tips column is published the first week of every month in C&EN. Post your comments, follow the discussion, and suggest topics for future columns in the Career Development section of ACS Network (www.acs.org/network-careers).