One Of My Bigger Regrets

 I really do not have many regrets in life.  Partially because I make reasonably intelligent choices most of time, and partially because I am too arrogant to admit I made a mistake in the first place.  That being said, one of my greatest regrets in life has been my complete lack of effort in attempting to maintain relationships.  I am great at building relationships with the people I work with, but when we no longer work together for whatever reason those relationships quickly fade away.  I don’t make a strong enough effort to keep in touch with people.

 I have been making much more of an effort to reconnect with some of the people from my past.  I have harnessed the power of LinkedIn and used it to reach out to many people that I have not spoken to in years.  I have picked up the phone and called a few people as well. 

I would love to tell you that the result has been a magical rekindling of old friendships and I was able to pick back up right where I left off with all of my old contacts.   I would love to tell you that, but that would not exactly be the truth.  In some cases, I have absolutely reconnected and I think I actually brought some joy to the people I was reaching out to.  My call was unexpected and I was reaching out for no other purpose than I wanted to talk to them.  I think it made them feel very appreciated and special.  In other cases the calls were very awkward and I think they were waiting for me to ask for something or trying to figure out what my angle was.  Every call may not have had a fairy tale ending, but a few of them really made some old friends smile so I would consider the effort a success.

Here is my advice to you, reach out to an old contact today.  Call them, don’t email your communication.  I had a much higher success rate with the phone calls I made as opposed to the emails I sent.  If one of your old contacts is still local to you, then arrange to have coffee or meet for breakfast one morning. My career path would have been far better if I had taken the time to maintain relationships throughout my career.  It took me a very long time to realize the value of maintaining relationships.  Fortunately, I like to believe that I am still evolving so I am taking the necessary actions to correct my behaviors.  Learn from my mistakes and regrets and reach out to someone today that you have not spoken to in a long time.  Step away from Twitter and Facebook and actually connect with someone today.   

It turns out your Iphone can actually be used for more than updating your Facebook page. It can actually make phone calls as well.

6 comments on “One Of My Bigger Regrets

  1. mimijk says:

    I have no doubt that those with whom you have rekindled friendships are so happy to have you back in their lives..

  2. Terrific topic and post. I share similar angst and when I find I reach out (not often), I almost always find that the other side feels the same way I do – and are grateful that we connected…Win-Win.

  3. Conecrusher says:

    Our social and business culture has us always looking forward, which makes it more difficult to hold on to what is in the past.
    Telemarketing calls have also hardened us to treat calls out of the blue with great suspicion. Sometimes old contacts call because they are now selling life insurance, ginsu knives, or are fund raising for a non-profit.

    I like reviving old relationships, but it’s hard. I’ve has some success by remembering to apply “context” and “engagement” before I make that phone call.

    Context means having a genuine shared interest- perhaps a personal hobby or business concern. If you have no context with the person you are contacting, all they can think of is wondering what you really want.
    Engagement means that I do one of two things- ask for advice, or deliver something of value to the person I am calling- a reason to do something other than passively listen and then hang up. The advice I ask for is general in nature, not professional. The other option is to offer something of value- an industry tidbit, or something happening in the local business community. “I came across this and I thought of you…” With this level of engagement in place, it is far easier to suggest meeting for coffee or lunch.
    My belief is that if you cannot do both of these things, reviving old relationships, whether they are professional or social, is difficult, awkward, and often unsuccessful.

  4. elisariva says:

    I understand your point, however remember it is a two way street. When it comes to work relationships and separation of service, often the wheat is separated from the shaft and friendships versus good acquaintances is defined. To have three or four close friends is a blessing. To have 5 to 10 good aquainances is outstanding. Managing a family, job, activities and close friends leaves limited time for good aquaintances. To keep in touch with a few once a quarter to me is a strong effort.

  5. I have tried to keep connect with some of the people in my past and as far as work we have several past employee that we still see on occasion. It does take effort and you are right as we make new connections it is easier at times to let the old ones fade away rather than put forth the effort to keep all relationships going. Good topic, you have me rethinking a few things 🙂

  6. You say your career likely would have been better had you worked hard to maintain relationships. I realize this blog is written in a way to give professional advice to managers (and thank heavens you are taking your experience and helping so many because your input is invaluable)…but keep in mind that LIFE outside of work is made better too by fertilizing friendships. Thanks for this post.

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