We answer questions from our relauncher community about what to write and what to say when relaunching.
I’ve been out of touch with my former colleague for years. What do I say when I send an invitation on LinkedIn?
Relaunchers tell us they are worried their old boss or work colleague won’t remember them, or will be mad at them for not staying in touch. We say, if you remember them, they will remember you, and they haven’t stayed in touch either, so forget about the hesitation and reach out. The worst thing that happens is you don’t hear back. If you don’t try, then you won’t even have the possibility of hearing back.
LinkedIn is a gift to relaunchers. It helps us find all those long lost people from the past and gives us a low pressure way of getting back in touch with them. Absolutely reach out on LinkedIn to all those people from the past with whom you have lost touch. Never mind that you haven’t spoken to each other in 14 years. Second, you probably know this, but don’t just click “connect.” Make sure you opt to add a note, and see the “script” for suggested language below.
The Script: for an initial LinkedIn connection request
“Hi Joe, It’s been a really long time. I saw an article about x (company or industry you both worked at or in together in the past) and I thought of you right away. It would be great to re-connect. Hope you are doing well, Carol”
Once he accepts the connection request, as he almost surely will, you can message him or you can usually email him – as most people put their email address in their LinkedIn contact information which you can access if you are connected.
Now we get to the important part...the follow up.
Once my former colleague accepts the LinkedIn invitation, how can I
re-establish the relationship without coming across as awkward or
The Script: after contact accepts LinkedIn connection request
“Hi, Joe, It’s great to be back in touch after so many years. Quick question for you - I am returning to the workforce after an eight year career break and am in information-gathering mode. I’m working on becoming a subject matter expert all over again and wanted to know if I could speak with you by phone for 15 minutes to hear your recommendations about who the top experts are in the field now. I need to start following them and read and listen to all of their content. If so, please let me know and I will send you a calendar invite. I promise I will be brief! Many thanks, Carol”
“It’s great to be back in touch after so many years. Quick question for you - I am returning to the workforce after an eight year career break and am in information-gathering mode. I am aiming to get up to speed on the latest thinking in our industry and was wondering if you would be able to recommend the top experts. Also are there particular websites, blogs, publications, or books I should make sure to follow or read? Or podcasts to listen to? Thanks in advance for any information you can provide. Much appreciated, Carol””
By stating early on that you are in “information gathering mode”, you reassure your contact that you’re not getting in touch for the opportunistic “can you help me get a job” (that may come later…), and instead you ask a genuinely important question that should be easy for them to answer and will also be extremely helpful to you.
It’s possible if you opt to send the first note asking for the phone call, the contact will email you the answer instead of getting on the phone, but that’s okay too – you have re-established the connection. Later you may get in touch to get their help in connecting with another colleague or for another reason, and ultimately, it’s possible you may ask this person for help with your job search. But don’t do that right away. It can be extremely off-putting to the recipient. You need to build the relationship back up first.