“The only thing holding us back is ourselves.” —Brad Henry
Yesterday, we learned the importance of being the Network Bridge. As you were creating your Network Tracker, you probably started remembering how many great people you haven’t reached out to in a while.
Mental Blocks Preventing Us from Reconnecting
When an opportunity arises to rebuild a past relationship, we often think to ourselves, “I haven’t spoken to Sarah in a while. But since we’re out of touch, there’s no way she would want to speak to me again. She would think I’ve been ignoring her. Maybe she’s busy and doesn’t see value in speaking to me.”
Just because you have fallen out of touch with Sarah, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to speak to you. If you were on good terms when you last saw each other, she won’t penalize you for being missing in action. Also, Sarah shares responsibility for neglecting to reach out. Research suggests that it has less to do with you and more to do with how our networks reach their peak size around the age of 25. After 25, they start to shrink due to marriage, children, and work commitments. So, don’t let the lack of communication fool you into thinking it’s personal, when it could just be a matter of the other person being busy. What’s even worse, maybe you both think you shouldn’t reach out to each other due to the time gap, yet you both would love to hear from each other.
Enter Dormant Ties
Dormant Ties are friends and colleagues you haven’t connected with in some time. Since the last time you two spoke, much could have changed in Sarah’s life. She might have advanced in her career, achieved new goals, met new people, or encountered new challenges. This is an opportunity to use your Connector’s Toolbox. Since both of you could have learned skills or met new people during this time, the fact that you haven’t spoken lately increases the benefit of reconnecting for both of you.
Think about a friend or colleague you haven’t heard from in a long time. If they reached out to you today, would you be hesitant to reconnect due to the time between last contact? Unless they did something wrong or are trying to use you, you’re probably just happy to be back in contact with the person. So, what’s making you hesitate to reach out?
No matter how real our insecurities may feel, sometimes they are just stories we create to protect ourselves. Rachel might tell herself, “Sarah probably doesn’t want to talk to me, so I shouldn’t bother reaching out.” While the story might seem true, what evidence does Rachel have to back this up? None. Rachel has fallen prey to a false narrative that prevents her from reaching out to those she cares about, which is critical for maintaining a healthy network.
Open your Network Tracker, and you’ll see a tab called the Conversation Journal. Here, you can track your thoughts before and after making contact with a dormant connection. Over time, you will see if your thoughts were true or just false narratives, based on the data in the tracker.
How to Reconnect
Now that you understand the concepts of reaching out to dormant ties, it’s time to arm yourself with the critical tools that make reconnecting easier.
Here are the things to include in your reconnecting email:
• Make sure to explain why you haven’t spoken to the person in awhile and why you feel sad for losing touch.
• Let the person know what you’re currently working on and if you can be of help to the person.
• Inform the person when you’re free for a phone call or in-person chat.
Now, this doesn’t mean you can ask Sarah for a favor—if you do that, you might as well kiss that goodwill goodbye. If you need to do that, I recommend reviewing the Connector’s Toolbox from Lesson 2 and thinking about what you can do for Sarah.
I recommend that you set a calendar reminder to connect with one dormant tie per week.
Tomorrow, we will learn how to set up effective introductions between your connections.
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