Think about someone you’ve met and admired but you have lost touch with. You may have shared a common interest with the person, they may have been there for you during an important moment, or you may have only had a brief conversation with them, but that conversation impacted you in a special way.
These are often people we want to maintain relationships with, but for a variety of reasons we don’t. The good news is that it only takes a little effort on our part to reconnect.
This article explores four ways you can authentically maintain relationships with people you respect and admire, and it includes a variety of email templates you can use to reconnect.
1. Arrange a Conversation
One of the best ways to maintain relationships is to talk. You might reach out to reconnect, ask for advice, or when the opportunity presents itself (e.g., you will be in the same town). Included below are two email templates you can customize to arrange a conversation.
Subject: Available to reconnect?
I hope this email finds you well. I am reaching out to see how you have been. I’d love to reconnect sometime and catch you up on what I’ve been up to since we last spoke.
Subject: Seeking your advice
I enjoyed speaking with you [when you last spoke]. I’ve been thinking more about what you said about [topic]. I thought of a few more questions and was hoping you might have a few minutes to connect again.
Is there a time next week you would be available to meet? My schedule is flexible each day between 3pm and 5pm.
2. Provide an Update
Some people will appreciate it when you keep them informed of significant changes in your life. For example, you might reach out when you’ve started a new job, are accepted into graduate school, move to a new city, get married, or have a child. Hearing directly from you, rather than via social media, let’s them know they are someone special to you.
Subject: Sharing good news
I hope all is going well with you. This is just a quick note to let you know that I accepted a position at [company name]. In my new role, I’ll be responsible for [insert some details]. Once I get settled in the new position I’ll reach back out to see if we can set up a time to catch up.
3. Share Resources
Another great way to stay connected with others is to share resources. Let others know when you read a book or an article that you think would be interesting to them. With books, you might provide a brief summary or mention a specific idea that made you think of them. With articles, rather just sending a link, consider paraphrasing an idea from the article that you think they would find particularly relevant.
Subject: Article of interest
I hope you’re doing well. I saw this article about [article topic]. I remember discussing this topic with you and thought you might be interested in the point the author makes about [something specific from the article].
Another way to be helpful is to connect two people you know who could benefit from knowing each other. In these instances, send an email introduction and let them decide if they would like to establish a relationship.
Subject: Intro: Lauren from [organization] to Dustin [organization]
Hi Lauren and Dustin,
I’m writing to e-introduce you to each other.
Lauren – Dustin is [title at company]. He is [something about him]. I thought he should get to know you because [reason].
Dustin – Lauren is [title at company]. She is [something about her]. I thought she should get to know you because [reason].
I’ll leave it to you two to connect.
4. Express Goodwill
Make a habit of expressing goodwill to people in your life. Goodwill could come in the form of gratitude or congratulations. For example, you can reach out to thank someone for something they did to help you or for a lesson they taught you. In addition, take time to celebrate special moments in other people’s lives (e.g., promotions, graduations, anniversaries).
Subject: Thank you
I am writing to thank you for all you’ve done for me and my career. Thank you particularly for [mention something specific].
I’m grateful for the guidance you’ve passed on to me.
Congratulations on your promotion. I was excited to learn about it [source]. I’d love to catch up and hear more about the position when you have time.
[Briefly share what you have been up to since you last spoke].
While I have included a variety of email templates, please know that you have many communication channels available to maintain relationships with others. In some situations you might stop by someone's office, make a phone call, send a text message, or hand write a note. Email is a great tool for brief messages and to arrange conversations, but most of us prefer not to have extended correspondence via email.
I’ve heard many people express reluctance about reaching out to people they admire because they don’t feel they have anything to offer or that the experience feels transactional. What I’ve proposed in this article are genuine ways to connect with other people and not ways to build large professional networks. While we cannot remain connected to everyone we meet, we can decide which relationships we’d like to grow and then take steps to nurture them.