When you can’t meet new people, why not reconnect with people with whom you have lost touch
In this time of staying at home, meeting new people is difficult, if not impossible.
If you need to reach out to generate new ideas or for job leads, consider awakening your sleeping ties instead. In network language, these are called “dormant ties”, and in French, “dormant” means sleeping. These are people whom you know from previous experiences but with whom you have lost touch, for example former colleagues, old classmates or friends from another city. By reaching out to them, you awaken a relationship that once was stronger, which is feasible in this unusual time.
In the article The Power of Reconnection: How Dormant Ties Can Surprise You, the authors found that reconnected ties beat current ones in terms of the value of their advice and that dormant ties provide more novelty than current ties. They also found that reconnecting is efficient, as it requires only a minimal investment of time. Finally, when people reconnect, they still have feelings of trust and a shared perspective, and the research showed that these feelings remained. Hence many people were happy to reconnect.
Finding people you haven’t spoken to for a while can be a breath of fresh air. Last week I had two serendipitous reconnections from people whom I knew 20 and 30 years ago. It brought a smile to my face to remember the experiences we shared.
Awakening sleeping ties can be a way to gain new insights that is feasible in our period of staying at home. Why don’t you give it a try? Some people may be overwhelmed and not respond. But others may be really happy to hear from you. Reaching out to your dormant ties is an opportunity to have a personal exchange and hear some new perspectives, both things I am missing in this unusual time.
Questions for consideration
1. Search your LinkedIn contacts or alumni database. Are there people with whom you have lost touch who could help you with a current project?
2. Consider making a concerted effort to reconnect, even without a purpose. It is nice to rekindle relationships, especially when we are working in a bubble.