In an age where personal connections are crucial to finding a job, it’s more important than ever to keep in touch with former employers and coworkers. These people can serve as mentors, references or even friends who may be able to share valuable career advice—assuming, of course, that you had a good relationship with them prior to leaving.
But ‘staying in touch’ is easier said than done. It takes time to keep in contact with someone you don’t often see and can feel awkward at times. But making the effort to reach out periodically means that when you do need a job reference or career advice, you’ll feel more comfortable asking for help. Here are five ways to keep in touch with those old employers without looking too desperate.
- Follow their professional careers on social media.
Social media is the easiest way to stay in contact with a former boss or colleague after parting ways. There are many forms of social media but professionally, LinkedIn is the best way to stay in touch with a previous manager. This platform allows you to see and comment on your connections’ professional accomplishments, updated resumes and work-related posts. Twitter is another form of social media that many people use for professional purposes. Feel free to engage with former colleagues through favoriting, retweeting or tagging them in work or industry-related posts.
Other social media sites such as Instagram and Facebook tend to be where people share more of their private lives. Unless you had a personal relationship with your boss prior to leaving, it may not be appropriate to follow them on these accounts. Use your best judgement when it comes to deciding which platforms to connect on.
- Send a professional update.
Getting promoted? Putting on a major event? Moving across the country for a job? Let your former boss know what you’ve been up to since leaving that organization. It’s also another opportunity to thank them for the experiences they’ve offered you that have helped you get to this point in your career. Keep in mind: Updates such as these can serve as a bridge to future employment opportunities. Having a close relationship with a former boss and updating them when you can means you have a good chance of receiving a positive, up-to-date recommendation when needed.
- Send an article or meme their way.
This is a great technique if you and your former employer have a common interest or shared passion. Send a former employer a “thought of you” message via email, LinkedIn or Twitter. This can be something as silly as an article about a TV show you and your previous boss used to talk about or something professionally-focused such as a piece on currents trends in the industry. Along with the article, write a short-but-sweet note along the lines of, “I read this and thought of you. Hope you’re doing well!” This will balance the relevance of the article with the desire to stay in touch.
- Visit the office or plan a meet-up when in town.
If you left your job to move away, the occasional visit can be a great way to catch up and maybe even get some valuable advice or career guidance. Whenever you are back at your old stomping grounds, it doesn’t hurt to send your previous boss a quick message about meeting up. It won’t hurt to try to get together, and chances are you’re not going to get turned down.
- Set a standing coffee or lunch date.
If you moved jobs but stayed in the same city, schedule a standing coffee or lunch date with your former boss a few times a year. This doesn’t have to be anything formal, but every six months, see if they are up for a meal to catch up in person. Make this convenient for them by offering to make the lunch reservations or meeting at a coffee shop near your old office. Not only will you get to hear what’s going on at your previous company, you can use this time to fill your old employer in on what you’ve been up to.