Coworkers from previous jobs can be a great source of employment information, including leads on new jobs and information about a specific industry. However, they can be a little tricky to track down. When you do find them, you need to delicately and professionally manage the process of reconnecting.
Try the following tips to renew your professional ties and build your network by tracking down past coworkers:
—Look on social networks. Facebook, LinkedIn, and other websites allow you to search for contacts by things you have in common, including previous employers. Therefore, if you and the person you want to find both took the time to list your work history on a site, tracking them down may be a snap.
—Meet in person. Reconnecting online only goes so far. You can often rebuild a professional relationship more quickly by meeting for drinks or a meal and using the time to catch up and talk about what you are doing now.
—Don’t make the reconnection all about you. Ideally, any networking relationship is a two-way street. You should be helping each other. You should start out by getting to know them again and taking a real interest in their life, professional and otherwise. Trust them to reciprocate, and only talk about your professional needs when they come up naturally.
—Wait a while to follow up. Following up shows that you really do have an interest in reconnecting. However, timing is important. Wait at least three weeks before contacting him or her. The person you want to get to know again may just be busy.
—Take advantage of natural opportunities to reconnect. Major life changes and holidays are good times to get back in touch with people. The contact will feel more comfortable, and your former coworker may be more likely to view it as a good-faith attempt to resurrect a friendship rather than a cold-hearted effort to use them to get ahead.