The idea of staying in touch with a former boss might seem awkward and daunting (depending on what you think “staying in touch” actually entails), but a little effort to maintain contact can go a long way when it comes to personal gain. Just reaching out now and then via social media can remove the awkwardness when you’d like to have a more in-depth conversation. And doing both—maintaining a social media tie and using that tie to connect and chat periodically—can help you with your long-term career growth. Here’s how.
You have a tough question about the future of your industry. Or you have two options in front of you, and you need to choose between them. You can ask your mom or your best friend if you want, but who understands your professional life and your capabilities better than your former boss? If you’re connected on social media, it won’t be hard or strange to send a PM with your question or to request a phone call or lunch date so you can ask in person.
Staying linked to your old boss can help you get a sense of what the future might hold for you. Why? Because seeing where your boss goes can help you understand where you might go as well. Chances are, a few years down the road, your boss will have left the job and the company to move onto the next step and the next rung of the ladder. Watching where she goes and what she does, can help you chart your course.
Your boss can share information, updates, achievements, announcements, and event info through social media that you might miss out on otherwise. And if you manage to stay in her true inner circle as a friend or colleague, you’ll get the same info and access from her first-hand.
Nobody finds it odd to be contacted and asked for a reference by a person who worked for them a year ago, or even five years. This is especially normal (and even flattering) if the person has maintained a connection through social media during that time. BUT it can certainly be odd to receive such a request from someone you haven’t worked with, seen or heard from in ten years. If you don’t stay in touch at all, don’t expect to be remembered any longer than you would remember the other person if your roles were reversed. Everyone likes to give references! But it’s easier and more pleasant to grant this favor to someone you know.
For more on the whys and hows of staying in touch with a former boss, contact the career management pros at PSU.