Use this Phone Exercise to Strengthen Your Network

1st Quarter Refresh

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When I started consulting I flew out to Seattle for the first time with my new coworker, Joel. I was the business analyst, he was the developer. We were put on all the MES projects together. Soon, two other developers joined our new-to-consulting-but-soon-to-dominate MES group, Karthik and Camille.

Since we were all new to Seattle we would go hiking together, explore downtown Seattle (hello Pike’s Market and Space Needle), and try new restaurants.

Eventually though, we all left the company as we climbed in our careers. Still, every once in awhile we call each other (on the phone, I know!) to catch up on life. I recommend it, you never know when you might want to work with an old coworker again.

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Today’s Challenge: Call someone you used to work with.

Today, call someone you used to work with. It should be someone you liked and had a good experience with at work. No need to stir up old drama.

Take a few minutes to make a list of people you’d like to catch up with. Then go ahead and give them a call!

Here’s some examples of who you could call:

  • A past teammate
  • An old boss
  • A client you previously worked with
  • An old lunch buddy (hey, you might not have officially worked together but all those lunches had to count for something, right?)

What you could talk about:

  • Are they working on anything cool?
  • Are they in a new position? Perhaps a different company (you could use this as a lead, “hey, I saw on LinkedIn that you got a promotion. I wanted to call and say congrats. Also, how are you?”
  • How are the kids/family/dog?

Remember, this phone call is about them, hearing what’s been going on in their lives. You don’t want to turn it into being an accidental brag fest about what you’ve been up to for the past five years.

You can keep the conversation short, about 10 – 15 minutes. That’s plenty of time to catch up. If you feel the spark of past working relationship is still there, as if they’d like to catch up again sooner. If you live in the same area, you could end the call with an invitation out to coffee.

How to end the call:

  • Ask if there’s anything they need help with.
  • Thank them for their time and for catching up.

Should you leave a voicemail?

Yes! Briefly explain that you were thinking of them, you’d like to catch up, and hope they’re doing well. Don’t forget to let them know how they can reach you. It may seem no ones checks voicemails any more but it could be awkward for them to see you called with no explanation why.

In this decade, career success, work, hiring and promotion potential will be about two things:

  1. The strength of your network.
  2. The power of your personal brand.

This challenge is best done by phone but if that seems too overwhelming you could reach out via LinkedIn or email first. You should still ask for a time to catch up over the phone.

This should be a fun assignment! Don’t pick an frenemy to call or someone who you didn’t get along with. Call someone who you had a good working relationship with and enjoy what they have to say.

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Sign up for (free) 20 days of mini-challenges – designed to give you a professional head start into the New Year.

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Featured Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash


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