Today’s post is based on a question from one of our readers, Karoline M. from Ohio. Karoline’s note says…
“Hi Belma – My mission is to improve the world through healthier, more sustainable foods. As I was looking for work in the natural foods space, I started to build a network of people driven toward the same mission. However, I now work for a large food organization where natural food is not necessarily the main focus.
How do I continue to keep in touch and build valuable relationships with the people I met given that my original approach was different from the work I’m doing at the moment?”
Love this question!
When we’re in “pursuit” mode – i.e. pursuing a new job, launching an idea, looking for freelance work – we’re reaching out and speaking to so many different people.
When we’re leading with our mission, we’re building a more focused network and connecting with like-minded people on a deeper level. This is happens naturally because we’re working toward similar goals.
Karoline, for example, is driven by making the world a healthier, better place through food, and having this focus allows her to connect more deeply with others who are doing similar work.
However, when we shift to a different line of work, it may feel uncomfortable to reach out to this same group of people. What will we talk about? What will connect us now?
So what IS the best way to follow up, stay connected and continue building a relationship when your line of work shifts from your mission?
Here’s how to approach this situation:
First, Things First. What’s the Point?
Before you rush to reach out to your contacts, ask yourself: Do I genuinely want to stay connected to this person? What’s the benefit now and in the long term?
If you’re just looking to stay in touch with someone because this person has a fancy title and may be able to help you some day, then stop. You have to be genuine and thoughtful in your pursuit to build and maintain a network.
However, if you a) genuinely liked the person, and b) want to continue working on your mission either now or later and feel a deeper relationship can serve both you, keep reading.
What’s the Agenda?
What’s your purpose for connecting? Be clear on the immediate and long-term benefit of your relationship.
For example, perhaps you’d like to continue working toward your mission either through your current company or outside of your day to day work (immediate).
Or, maybe you want to pick up your mission driven work in a year or two from now, when your schedule and career position permits (long-term).
Once you’re clear on this, reach out with an update and schedule a follow up call. Be genuine and honest about where you are and what you’re looking to do either now or a few years from now.
To make the conversation valuable, answer the following:
- Is there an opportunity for you to learn from each other? If so, what are the knowledge gaps you can fill?
- Can you do anything to support him / her with his mission today by offering an opportunity through the work you’re currently doing?
- Is there a way for you to connect these two worlds – your current position with that of your contact’s?
If there is no immediate or long-term benefit to staying in touch, and if you can’t answer the above right now, it’s better to hold off on continuing the conversation. Time is precious, so don’t waste your time or hers.
However, this also doesn’t mean you should throw out her contact information and forget you ever connected.
What Can You Do In the Meantime?
Stay connected on LinkedIn, Twitter, or a social media platform where you’re both active. Share content and information in a way that helps you continue your mission-driven conversation by tweeting relevant news to each other.
The goal is to stay top of mind and stay in each other’s circles without scheduling calls for the sake of scheduling calls. Be mindful of your networking strategy, and focus on building an entourage and a community versus surface connections.
Most importantly, have faith that your mission-driven work will lead you on the right path and will enable you to grow an effective, sustainable network with meaningful relationships.
Now, I’d love to hear from you. How do you stay in touch with new connections, especially if your work shifts from your original mission? Leave a comment or a question below.