Old Faces, New Places
I’ve always been cautious about who I reconnect with. There’s too many people who I let go of because they weren’t helping me grow. And giving them second chances to network with them is risky because I could be spending time and effort on the same results. It seemed that people didn’t change and giving them an ear ended up not being worth it.
I reconnected with an old acquaintance from high school 6 years after we graduated. Although I didn’t talk much with her during our time together back then, I never wanted to involve myself in that crowd again. I was more interested in building new relationships with people that catching up with old ones didn’t cross my mind.
However, I was pleasantly surprised to see how much both of us had grown since then. And learning how much we both have matured and developed our emerging brand identities was amazing. I realized that connecting with an old face also meant allowing yourself to experience more of the changing landscape everyone goes through. Being able to have her resonate with some of my issues and see her perspective was a good eye opener.
And this led to reminding myself that there have been times others may have felt hesitant to reconnect with me too.
How Can We Trust Others’ Intentions?
Certainly, there are times when people reach out and just want something from you. And that can leave a bad taste in your mouth when you do your best to be open and help, and they disappear after. I’ve been very cautious in how in involve myself with other people. Especially after times when I felt hurt that the person didn’t help me out after I did them a favor.
And then conversations end up unproductive too. In fact, a 2010 study found that happiness is related to having deeper, meaningful conversation rather than small talk.
Now, I think the key to trusting other people with your time falls on a few different things throughout the meeting:
1. How they approach you at the outset of the re-connection
Do they reach out to you with a specific task for you (e.g. help with a resume, question about something)? Or do they lead into it? Are they more cautious and try to field your sentiment before moving forward? Or are they unashamed of their ask?
2. How they explain what they want from you or want to do with you
Does what they propose give you a good idea of ways you could potentially interact with them? Or does it seem pretty cut and dry, and there’s no way for you to learn and collaborate again?
3. The content of your chat when you do meet
Did you learn anything new or see a new perspective than you did when you first met them? Or were you guys talking about mindless stuff? Was it all serious? Or did you allow yourselves to relax and form a more meaningful bond?
4.What they do to follow-up with you
Was another meet-up scheduled or hinted at? Did any of you follow up after the meeting? Did you guys talk about ideas that you can keep a connection with?
These things will help keep your re-connection going by making sure you know the baseline of what you both can get value of in the relationship.
A Good Re-Connection?
Now, I don’t think you should be dissecting everything that’s happening when it happens. There’s no need to start making a list of everything according to my parameters above. But I think it’s a good checklist to go over in your head when you’re considering reaching out to them again afterward.
Some people think it’s a cold connection to want to network with people just to network. And for the most part, that’s fair. But I think that we have relationships that serve different means in our life. There’s just something much more meaningful when connections aren’t just who can get you your next job.
Being able to realize a future collaboration with someone who can empathize with and respect your perspective is a strong relationship to have. These people you reconnect with may or may not be your next great BFF. But they will be meaningful, they will be strong contacts, and they will bring power to your personal brand.
Because your personal brand is not only what you involve yourself in and how you showcase that. It’s also about who you surround yourself with to further your ideas and foster new creative ventures.
And that’s the connection I made today.
Well, I think the hardest part is maintenance. It’s easy to forget people. And it can make you feel unappreciative or make you feel bad for not catching up.
But the strings of relationships and what keeps people together is very delicate. Some relationships are fostered on emotion, and the individuals needed each other at a certain time and place. Others are formed on strength and these people push off of each others’ energy. Some are just acquaintances who we need to just have fun with. And others become your best friends because they truly understand your ideas and your behaviors.
Ultimately, it’s a two-way street. You both will either talk every day or once a month or even once a year. And it’s ok to have those boundaries. It’s what keeps us going, knowing that we have people of all walks of life to come and go as we move through our own spaces.
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