Quite recently, one of my dear colleagues told me that he had accepted a new job with a different company. I got really excited and asked him to tell me more. From his description, it sounded like the new job was going to be exactly what he had been looking for.
Our conversation led us to reflect on the good times we had together: the things we learned, the challenges we overcame and the friends we made.
At some point, my colleague mentioned that the only thing he was sad about was having to say goodbye to so many great people.
I knew exactly what he was talking about since I had felt the same way many times throughout my career.
But over time, I realized that saying goodbye doesn’t have to be the end of the relationship. Instead, it can help you to grow a much better one.
As the years passed, my former colleagues continued to switch jobs and to take on new responsibilities. Slowly, they spread all over the world. Some of them ended up in the most amazing places and positions.
I’m far from an expert in networking, so I reach out to them only every now and then. But even that is enough to yield some amazing benefits.
Every time we catch up, there are plenty of new stories to tell as well as old stories to remember. A lot of my thinking about teamwork has been influenced by these stories.
If I feel stuck with a problem, I can explore different angles with my former colleagues. Their unique perspectives often help me to get unstuck and lead me towards a good solution.
What’s more, I learn about how different organizations really work. This helps me to form an opinion about those organizations - making it easier to decide wether I would like to work for them.
It’s surprisingly easy to get to build these kinds of relationship.
Make sure to talk to your colleagues before they leave and ask them for their email address. Whenever you feel like it, reach out to some of your former colleagues. Sometimes you’ll only exchange a few sentences via mail. Other times you’ll schedule a call. Occasionally, you might even meet face-to-face.
The only thing you need is patience. It takes a while to lay the foundations, but eventually your former work relationships will have grown into something special.