We’ve all been there: one day we look up, and we haven’t done our professional networking in a while. But if you haven’t spoken to a contact since the last millennium, what excuse can you use to reconnect?
Of course, if you have a great relationship with one of your former clients it’s easy to pick up the phone and chat. But when it comes to networking with the less well-known contacts, even the most extroverted PR professional can feel a little shy.
Fortunately, there’s usually no need for a hard sell – the key is to just maintain contact and say hello from time to time. You want to remind them of your existence, which will make them think of you first the next time a project comes up. Try one of the following “excuses” to reach out – it works!
1. Your contact details change – When you have a change of address, email or phone, it’s the best excuse in the world to reach out to your contacts. Avoid sending potential clients a blanket notice and instead use the opportunity to initiate a real conversation.
2. To say you're available – Don’t shudder at this thought. A simple note letting contacts know you have availability can yield big results.
Sample wording: Thought I’d reach out and let you know that I have some availability right now. If you have any projects come up that might be a fit for me, please keep me in mind – I’d welcome the chance to work with you again.
3. Your contact got a promotion – If you hear through the grapevine (or see on LinkedIn) that someone you know received a promotion or a new job, send them your heartfelt congrats. You can also ask what they’ll be working on in their new role, but don’t say anything about working together (which will make your note self-serving) – this particular outreach is strictly to keep in touch.
4. Their company/department had news – Send a note of sincere congratulations when you see that your contact’s organization had an important news event – it will help them think of your services the next time they have a news event!
5. You begin offering a new service – It can be anything from social media to media training – as you work as a Solo PR Pro, you’ll continue to advance your skillset and offer new services. Make sure your contacts know about them.
Sample wording: I wanted to let you know I’m now handling X for many of my clients – let me know if you have any needs in this area where I could be of assistance.
Also, don’t forget to follow-up with your existing contact wherever they land. This is a critical step in growing your business – like an amoeba, your one potential client has just become two.
7. Ask if they're going to any upcoming events – If there’s a big conference or networking event coming up in your area that you’ll be attending, ask your local contacts if they’ll be there (or if they are going to any other upcoming events). This is an excuse to connect by email, and you could end up strengthening your connection in person.
8. They're now on Twitter – If you're on Twitter (and you should be) and you see a former colleague has joined, reach out and say hello. Twitter is the easiest social platform for this, because the person doesn't have to “friend” or “accept your connection.” It’s a low key way to say hi to long-lost contacts.
9. Connect on LinkedIn – LinkedIn can actually be a great excuse to reach out to those you haven’t spoken to in a while. Just make sure your invitation to connect is customized to your relationship.
Sample wording: I’m updating my network and realized we aren’t connected here yet. I hope all is going well with X product and I’d love to hear more about what you’re doing. Let’s keep in touch.
10. They have a blog – If one of your potential clients has a blog, you are in luck! Be sure to read it regularly and try to comment at least once a month.
Next time you encounter the networking equivalent of stage fright, ask yourself: would I be annoyed if someone contacted me in the same way? It’s highly unlikely that you would be, so just do it.
What did I miss? Do you have any tried-and-true excuses for reconnecting?