If you think about it, your career consists of a series of projects. Some last months, others years, but whether they are engagements, roles, or initiatives, each one inevitably comes to an end, and you turn your attention to the next one. Your projects afford the opportunity to work with a given set of clients, partners, staff, board members and community leaders, and when they end, so do many of these relationships. I’m not suggesting there’s a messy breakup, but many of the parties you interacted with on a regular basis fade into the background when the project no longer drives regular discussion, meetings, and collaboration.
For the relationships you genuinely value, I’m sure you do your best to stay in touch. A holiday card here. A LinkedIn endorsement there. But over time the numbers become too large, and before you know it you have a database full of former clients, referral sources, and collaborators with no reliable way to reconnect or stay top-of-mind.
It is unmanageable to “do lunch” with all of them individually, even the most important ones, but it is feasible to invite them to social events. Host a quarterly happy hour and invite those who are local to you. Even if only a few of them attend, the rest of them will appreciate the invitation and, in some cases, respond with opportunities to re-engage with you. Either way, you have a way to maintain the connections you forged in the past and would like to build upon in the future. All you have to do is manage one more project, and compared to the ones you’ve already completed, a quarterly happy hour should be a piece of cake.
Authored by David Ackert