When it comes to networking, many of us have two approaches: try to meet lots of new people (weak ties) or simply rely on the network we have (strong ties).
Adam Grant, author of Give and Take, suggests that we look into our dormant ties, people we’ve lost contact with but used to be very close to. We lose touch with people more often than we think, especially as we move or change jobs. Yet, according to Grant, these dormant ties can offer powerful access to new information and opportunities:
Just like weak ties, dormant ties offer novel information: in the years since you last communicated, they’ve connected with new people and gathered new knowledge. But unlike weak ties, dormant ties also bring the benefits of strong ties. The history and shared experience makes it faster and more comfortable to reconnect, and you can count on them to care more about you than your acquaintances do.
Of course, like with any networking effort, it’s not just a matter of throwing out your business card and hoping someone calls you back. Here are a few other tips Grant suggests:
1. Be generous: If you have a history of being a giver, people are much more likely to respond to your effort to reconnect.
2. Be consistent: Grant sets aside time each month to reconnect with at least one dormant tie. Instead asking for something, he offers help by sharing his knowledge or making an introduction.
3. Be open: For some of us, the idea of reconnecting with people is a challenging one. After all, aren’t dormant ties dormant for a reason? But given that we lose touch with people because we get busy or move away, it never hurts to keep an open mind. Reconnecting with that long-lost friend will likely be rewarding.
Not sure who your dormant ties might be? Ask yourself these nine questions.