This is our final post in the series on regrets, based on Daniel Pink’s new book The Power of Regret. We’ve been looking at each of the 4 core regrets that Pink identified in his research, and noting how each can take a toll on someone’s career success.
The final type of regret that Pink identified is what he calls Connection Regrets. These are the regrets that have to do with not maintaining the relationships that matter to us.
Here’s how that goes in your career. Let’s say you work with someone for a few years and during that time, you make a really great connection. Then, inevitably, one of you moves on – someone gets a better job or moves to a new location. You might stay in touch for a little while, but after that, the connection fades away. Every once in a while you think of that person and you regret not keeping in touch. But it feels too late to reach out. You feel bad for not staying in contact. You think it will be too awkward to reach out after so much time, too uncomfortable. So the disconnect continues, along with the regret.
Over time, if you go through that pattern enough times, eventually you end up shrinking your network. That can be costly to your career. Without a robust network, you won’t have people to reach out to when you’re looking for new opportunities. You won’t have people who could help move your projects forward, or find good people when you have roles to fill. Also, from the other side, you won’t be a resource to them when they need someone.
Moving past the regret, and then past the awkwardness, in order to reconnect is an important step in maintaining a healthy network. This is something I help my clients do.
The truth is that time passes quickly for most of us, so even though it’s been a few years, it’s often easier than you think to reconnect with someone. All it takes is that first step.
I experienced the power of this in my own career several years ago.
I had made a nice connection with someone who ran a consulting company in another town. We had both put in proposals for the same project. She ended up winning the bid, but because it was public sector work for an issue I felt was important, my team and I reached out to offer our support. We had a nice conversation about the situation, and agreed to keep in touch.
A little while later, she was looking to add someone to her project team locally, and reached out. Unfortunately, at the time I couldn’t take on the additional work, but I made introductions to other resources. Meantime, I also shared some tools with her and her colleagues that I thought might help with the project.
After that, we sort of lost touch. At the end of the year, I sent her an email to say I was thinking about her. I didn’t get a response.
At the end of the next year, I was once again going back through my list of contacts, sending greetings to various people. Although she hadn’t responded the year before, I decided to send her another note – simply, “Hey, I’m thinking about you as another year comes to a close.”
This time, she not only responded, but brought me in to work with her team. That turned into several months’ worth of work, through a transition that was really important to them. I would never have had that opportunity had I let myself stay stuck in the connection regret, or if I had made it mean something that she hadn’t written back to me the year before.
Getting back in touch with people you used to enjoy at work can add a powerful boost to your career. The first step is to move through the connection regrets. Then, you need an approach for getting back in touch without it feeling awkward and uncomfortable – or worse, that you’re only reaching out because you want something. That’s exactly what I help my clients do.
If you want to add a power boost to your career, reviving your network is one of the best steps you can use. It doesn’t have to feel awkward or uncomfortable. Want to know more about how to do it? Reach out and book a call with us today. We’ll talk with you about your current career situation and your goals and help you map out a game plan to get from here to there. You can book that call at https://www.zmcoach.com/apply. We look forward to hearing from you.