How to Revive an Old Relationship with Clients & Colleagues

Are you looking to get back in touch with someone, yet unsure about the best approach after such a long time?

Consider these dos and don’ts before making your initial contact.


How to Revive an Old Relationship


Not long ago, I received an email from a former colleague after years of no interaction.

The purpose of her outreach?

To introduce me to a new service she’s involved in.

My initial response was cautious.

While reconnecting with old friends is usually welcome, it comes with a caveat: is this connection genuine, or is it fueled by a specific agenda? My preference lies in relationships built on reciprocity, consistency and trust. I suspect I’m not the only one who values such authenticity.

This encounter sparked the inspiration for this blog post.


Professional Strategies to Get Back in Touch

There are many professional ways to reach out to people you’ve lost touch with, such as a former classmate, colleague, vendor, associate or client, or with current clients whereby your relationship has gone stale.

Keep the following five approaches in mind the next time you’re looking to get back in touch:


#1 – Before picking up the phone or sending your communication, stop.

Ask yourself this one important question, “What’s in it for them?” Because they’ll want to know why they’re now hearing from you after such a long time. Lead your communication with the answer to this question.

Frame your communication as an opportunity to discuss mutual interests or potential collaboration.


#2 – Don’t worry about how long it’s been since you’ve written or spoken with this individual.

Most people enjoy reconnecting with individuals from past jobs, networking events, partnerships, etc. However, to increase the likelihood of an individual responding to your message, your approach should be authentic, reeking of reciprocity.

Consider mentioning a specific project, event or achievement related to them that caught your attention, and express genuine interest in their well-being and inquire about any updates or changes in their professional (or personal) life.



#3 – Share a helpful piece of information that applies to your contact’s personal or professional interests.

For example, if you’re a financial advisor trying to revive a relationship with a past prospect, send them a brief email with a link to a relevant article, e.g., share a recent college funding trend study with a prospect whose child will be graduating from high school in a few years.

Your email could read, “Joe, I saw this article and thought of you and Mary. With Jessie nearing college age, you may find this college funding trend study helpful. How are you and your family doing? Any recent travel? Sincerely, Phil.”


To increase email response rates, it must be clear to your former client or colleague how your outreach benefits them. When writing your email subject line, therefore, focus on relevance. Specifically, ensure the subject line is directly related to the content of the email and highlight a benefit or value for the recipient, e.g., College Funding Study for You and Mary.



#4 — Perform research before making contact.

Find answers to your obvious questions rather than asking them.

In the instance of long-lost prospects or even current clients, this step is imperative, i.e., imagine reaching out to Joe (above) and mentioning his deceased wife in the present tense. A simple Google search prevents this faux pas.



#5–Be socially active.

For example, try one or all of the following when trying to reconnect with a former client or colleague:

  • Send a personalized Linkedin connection request, including mentioning something specific you appreciate about their work or a shared interest. Engage with their recent posts and comment thoughtfully to show you’ve been keeping up with their activities.
  • Attend industry conferences or networking events where you know they’ll be present. Approach them in a friendly manner, expressing your interest in catching up.
  • Follow them on X (Twitter), Instagram or Facebook. Engage with their content by liking, commenting or sharing when appropriate.

Try this approach next time you want to renew an old relationship by email:


It’s been a long time, I hope you’re doing well. I’d love/like to reconnect and hear about what’s happening in your life. {Are you free for lunch next Tuesday or Wednesday?} or {How is your business doing? How are the kids?}

Claire must be five by now–unbelievable how time flies.*

Looking forward to catching up, it’s been far too long!




*If possible, insert a highly personal comment. The more personalized your message, the higher your response rate. This comment is true for any form of marketing, including postcards, signs, print ads, social posts, etc.

The key is to make your note exclusively about the person with whom you’re trying to renew a connection. Most people will reciprocate the question, “What’s going on in your life?” If they don’t, then the relationship probably holds little value, or the person is simply not interested. Either way, withhold talking about your interests until your question is reciprocated.


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RELATED: Check out Alan Garner’s excellent book, Conversationally Speaking: Tested New Ways to Increase Your Personal and Social Effectiveness.” It’s an easy read and provides a plethora of useful examples on how to facilitate effective conversations so that people will keep talking with you.

He describes how to put people at ease and how to ask specific questions that promote conversation. It’s worth anyone’s time who needs to keep a conversation going, e.g., salesperson, consultant, small business owner, parent, spouse, etc. 


In closing, before trying to reconnect with someone, ask yourself this key question:

What is your plan to sustain this renewed relationship in the future?

When trying to revive former business relationships, work from a cohesive plan that defines your future touch-points, resulting in deeper and ultimately more prosperous relationships.


Before You Go

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Independently Yours,