Jess and I bonded over the 8:00 a.m. breakfast buffet.
Instant conference buddies, we planned our agendas, shared our notes and hunted for power outlets together. On the last day, we vowed to stay in touch. One year later, our fast-made friendship had faded into a conference-born fling.
You probably have your own Jess.
From your first boss to your former client, it’s easy to lose touch with peripheral connections. Once valued, they become latent first-degree connections. You held these lost connections close then, so take action to revive them now.
These five requests work because they promise a rewarding interaction, stimulating the brain chemical dopamine that controls motivation.
The promise of reward — in this case, rebuilding a relationship — motivates action and satisfies the instinctual response, “What’s in it for me?”
1. Let’s Touch Base
Ask to schedule a quick call to catch up.
The low time investment inspires a prompt, affirmative response. Touching base doesn’t require preparation — just a casual conversation — but it sets you up for a more involved discussion.
Here’s a template to customize based on my request to Jess (that worked!).
2. Let Me Pick Your Brain
Request input on a current project, career move or other professional endeavor.
A Harvard University study found that discussing your own opinions and qualities motivates and pleases you more than talking about others. Self-centered conversations activate brain regions that regulate these positive responses: the medial prefrontal cortex, nucleus accumbens and ventral tegmental area.
And who doesn’t like to be consulted for advice?
Since the brain is wired to prefer sharing our own thoughts, make it about them.
3. Let’s Meet Up
Face-time is ideal for rebuilding a relationship. When possible, remove virtual barriers for a meaningful face-to-face interaction.
Ask for a casual meet-up to reconnect over cocktails, coffee or other conversation fuel. Plan to attend a networking event or social gathering together.
Traveling for work or fun? Reach out to a lost connection in your destination area to meet up.
4. Let Me Feature You
Offer to spotlight your lost connection through a case study, interview, speaking opportunity or other feature.
This request flatters with its expertise nod. It also serves as a natural segue into touching base, brain-picking or meeting up.
5. Let’s Help Each Other
Propose a project collaboration or idea exchange that promotes mutual success. Helping each other equalizes your relationship for a win-win result.
Working together also boosts motivation.
A Stanford University study found that partnership increases intrinsic motivation: the natural desire to do something. We know from experience that effective teamwork is energizing and productive, so leverage its impact.
When it comes to professional relationships, strike a balance between growth and maintenance. Don’t just focus on making new connections; strive to retain the ones you already have. Revive the Jesses to keep your network alive and well.