Simple Ways to Reconnect with Your Professional References

You know you should keep in touch with your professional references, but sometimes life gets busy. Maybe reconnecting is one of your New Year’s resolutions? Or, maybe you need a reference ASAP?

Here’s how to handle both situations.

To Reconnect Casually

Send an Email, Text or Make a Phone Call

Begin the conversation with, “It’s been too long,” and express a genuine interest in catching up. Show your commitment by setting a plan to stay in touch in the future too.

Interact on Social Media

Social media makes it easy to restart a conversation. Say “Happy Birthday” on Facebook, comment on vacation photos on Instagram or send congratulations for a promotion or work anniversary on LinkedIn.

Ask for Advice

Re-engage your relationship by asking a knowledgeable contact for assistance with a work- or career-related question. Of course, be sure your request is sincere. If you can’t think of anything to ask, use one of the other tactics instead.

Make a Date

Take the next step by arranging to meet in person. Connect over dinner, lunch, coffee, a golf game, a local event or even a walk around the block.

To Reconnect for a Reference

Admit Your Shortcomings

Requesting a reference when you have lost touch with someone is bound to feel awkward. Accept this and move forward. Own up to your shortcoming and avoid excessive apologies. A simple statement such as, “I can’t believe we lost contact. I hope you are open to reconnecting,” should do the trick.

Be Transparent

Ultimately, you are reconnecting because you need a favor. Don’t try to hide this as the truth will come out in the end. Looking insincere is not an effective way to get a positive reference. Let the person know what you are up to and be open about your request.

Provide Context

If you haven’t talked to your contact in a while, they may not remember you well. Don’t make assumptions that may either add to the awkwardness or result in a lack of response. Remind them when and where you worked together and clarify what type of reference you need.

Say Thank You

If the person is a good sport, you owe them gratitude. Recognize their support with an email, text or better yet, a handwritten note.

Keep in Touch

Regardless of the outcome, be sure to keep the person informed of your progress. (By the way, this holds true for ALL references.) And make a pledge to do a better job of maintaining the relationship. After all, good references are worth the effort.

Finally, try not to feel guilty about losing contact. It happens, and most people understand. If you do run into someone who is uncooperative, don’t take it personally. Shake it off and move on.

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