When it comes to networking, your old bosses are worth their weight in gold.
Past supervisors know your track record, they work in your industry and they have their own professional networks. They can be a professional reference, write a letter of recommendation and connect you to new career opportunities.
In light of this, it’s a bit odd that many people are bad at staying in touch with their old bosses. Perhaps it’s because staying in touch takes time or because it can be awkward. If you don’t have a specific reason for reaching out, it can be difficult to know when and how to do so. But occasionally touching base means if you do need a letter of recommendation or a professional reference, asking won’t seem random and awkward.
Below are a few occasions to reach out and maintain a connection with old supervisors in a way that looks thoughtful, not random, weird or transactional.
When you have a major career event
The best time to reach out to someone you’ve lost contact with is when you don’t have to, and for past bosses, that means reaching out after a big promotion or other positive career event.
When good things happen in your career, inform your old supervisors and thank them for helping you get to this point in your life. You don’t have to wait for a major change either. For instance, if you’ve been picked to stage a large event, send a message saying how working under your old boss allowed you to be chosen for this important responsibility.
When you see an item of common interest
When you discover articles about industry trends or an achievement of a former colleague, send an email with a short note saying you thought it might be of interest. Make sure to balance the importance and usefulness of the article with your desire to remain in touch.
Also, don’t overdo it. Sending over articles once a week may come off as an annoying, whereas sharing occasionally may seem like more of an afterthought.
When something happens in your personal life
If you’re moving to a new city or getting married, these are great times to share good news and pass along updated contact information. When you share these life events, it also cultivates a more personal connection – rather than cultivating a professional, transactional relationship.
Around the holidays
We all get cards from random people: your old neighbor; an elementary school pen pal; or your weird uncle that lives in Alaska.
Because it’s standard practice for people to reach out around the holidays, connecting to an old boss just feels natural.
At Software Specialists, we help job seekers with everything from networking suggestions to interview prep. If you’re currently looking to take the next step on your IT career path, please contact us today to find out how we can help.