I know, it sounds like I busted out the bubbly a couple weeks early. I didn't. I had this perfectly sober thought: old acquaintances should not only not be forgot, the good ones should be renewed.
At the risk of pointing out what's painfully obvious, us Internet tribers have a serious set of tools at our fingertips for resurrecting relationships with the potential to be productive, profitable, and perhaps, just plain fun.
Why commit all your efforts to fishing for new connections when it's so easy to reel in some of the ones that got away?
Don't tell me you don't know who they are.
Sure, sometimes what happened in the past needs to, you know, stay in the past. But who among us doesn't have a plethora of clients, employers, workmates, vendors and mentors who we've lost touch with? Many of them remember you fondly, right? Some never meant to drift away at all. For one reason or another, life just got in the way.
Well, here's the plan. We're going to resolve to conduct a little reconnecting in 2012. And you know what you're going to hear when that fateful phone call finally happens? You're going to hear something along the lines of "Funny, I was just thinking about you."
Where shall we start?
Take your pick. Maybe you have a good old fashioned Rolodex. If you're like me, you have a bad habit of keeping a 5-10 year archive of old emails. Start scrolling. Your cell phone's contact list? Old Christmas cards? I bet in the back of your file cabinet you'll find old invoices, in the back of your desk's top drawer rests a stack of old business cards, and in the back of your mind is an ex-client who moved, went on leave, got laid off, or disappeared into the ether.
What if beside moving on they also moved up? Your old friend, the office assistant, now runs a gazillion dollar e-business, is on the lookout for someone just like you and is taking the company public in a matter of months. I'm thinking you might want to buy that old friend a latte.
Do you need a good reason to get in touch?
If you've discovered the cure for a disease or sold a screenplay to James Cameron you might want to mention that, but your news need not be earth-shattering. Maybe you go the sentimental route and tell the old crony how much you missed 'em. Maybe you had a relationship built on honesty and you just come out and say you miss cashing their checks.
You can come up with something. You have a new job, address, business card, idea, website, niche, partner, lease on life, something. If you have no news to break, conjure up some sort of ice breaker instead. It pays to network. If the person you reached out to again is violently opposed to the idea, bite your tongue, take a deep breath and blame it on Barry's silly blog post. (Maybe I'll get some work out of it.)
Now let's flip this thing.
Beside playing the role of hunter, why not make yourself easy to hunt for? I suspect I'm preaching to the choir now, but make sure to dot your dot-coms where long lost associates are likely to look.
If you're one of the 7 or 8 holdouts yet to join Facebook, face it, the time has come. Be a twit no more and build yourself a cozy little nest on Twitter. Don't leave out LinkedIn. And YouTube too.
Give it up to Google.
Google yourself (when no one's looking). Your name's nowhere to be found? Oy. Must we call in the SEO squad? Please, build yourself a humble little online presence. Enlist in a free blogging service like Tumblr or Blogger, upload a picture of what you used to look like and be prepared to get popular again.
And while we're on the subject of Google. Grab a Gmail address. Trust me, it's not just another email account. It's a ticket aboard the social express. Gmail is wonderful for assassinating spam and taking advantage of a nearly infinite set of services that come by way of integrated features and third-party extensions.
I adore one called Rapportive. Everybody does, or at least everybody that has added Rapportive to Gmail, that is. The extension plugs into popular browsers in a snap and then shows you everything about your contact right inside your inbox. To connect with your contact, browse their recent social activity, read their bio, or even give 'em a ring, you don't even need to leave the comfort of your inbox. It's delightful. (I've shown you here a glimpse of what my Rapportive sidebar would look like in your inbox.)
So what do you say? I'd like to propose a toast to old acquaintances. Will you join me? Did you have any helpful hints the readers might want to know? Some good ideas might have slipped my mind. Us old guys can be very forgetful.
Funny epilogue: I received a LinkedIn invitation to connect with someone today. I checked out her profile and had zero clue about how I might know this woman. I wrote back saying I'm happy to connect, but I don't believe I know you. She replied that we had dated. Perhaps some old acquaintances should be forgot.