Last night I enjoyed the wonderful opportunity to get reconnected with some friends I hadn’t spoken with in over 5 years. You know that kind of conversation? Great people you’d like to stay in touch with, but it just hasn’t seemed to work out that way. But within 2 minutes, you feel like you’re reconnected as if you had spoken with them the week before!
Whether you’re unemployed or unfulfilled, being connected with others is essential. Whether that connection results directly into a specific job opportunity, or the advice shared that is useful in your next step, or the conversation simply encourages you along your career journey, connections are vital to your forward progress.
If you’re like most people, you can probably easily agree with the examples or logic of staying connected. BUT, when you’re unemployed or unfulfilled, it’s a lot easier said than done! Somehow the easiest tasks of networking with friendly people who think highly of you can somehow become a difficult challenge.
Perhaps you feel awkward in reaching out to them with an “ask” because you haven’t spoken with them in quite some time. Perhaps you feel like you would come across as a pest intruding back into their lives. Or perhaps you’re not quite sure about what you’d even ask them if you actually did reach out and make contact with them.
We’ve all been there, right? Probably 29 more “perhaps” obstacles could be highlighted to prevent us from reconnecting with those friendly contacts.
Yet every time I’ve simply placed the call or written the email or sent the text when reaching out, the world didn’t end! And almost every time, I’ve reconnected with someone, the experience was very positive with usefulness being shared by me AND the person to whom I reached out.
Remove the Fear
Unfortunately, fear once again is a culprit in our lives that causes us to pause or even stop going forward with our connections. And as I hope you’ll see again and again here at Crossroads Career, we’ll continue to combat that fear with Scripture. In fact, Scripture speaks against fear many times…here are a few:
- Psalm 27:1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?
- Psalm 56:11 “In God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me?”
- John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
So, as we start 2023, no matter where you might be in your career journey, I encourage you to stay connected. Of course, that begins with getting reconnected to valuable past connections who already know you and are supportive to you.
Nurture your Network
Even if you’re employed full-time, you’ll need to carve out time to nurture your network because the odds are high that you’ll need to tap into it sooner rather than later. Reaching out when you don’t “have to” also relieves you of the “perhaps” pressures I mentioned earlier. I’d encourage you to set a goal now with a reachable target of how many people you can reconnect with per week. And those reconnections don’t need to be 30-minute long conversations. They can just be a 5-8 minute conversation, with you just stating your purpose up front in wanting to stay connected. Or, you could put together an email message, and then simply customize it slightly for each person you send it out to.
Think of how you feel when someone reaches out to you. If you’re like me, you feel pleased the other person wants to stay connected. What is exchanged rarely really matters. What matters is that the action occurred.
The best time to reconnect is NOW! Reach out – – you’ll be glad you did!
Dave Sparkman currently serves as the volunteer Crossroads Career board chair and local ministry leader. He is also the founder and managing director of Spark Your Culture, a corporate culture consulting firm. Prior to that he worked at UnitedHealth Group, a Fortune #5 public company, serving in the role of Chief Culture Officer. His unemployment experience came from the implosion of Arthur Andersen, where he served as the West Region Managing Partner, People.