How to Revive an Old Relationship with Clients & Colleagues

It’s been a long time, has it?

Trying to figure out how to revive an old relationship?

Here are some dos and don’ts to consider before making your initial contact.

Recently, I received a message from an old acquaintance. She reached out to tell me about her new service.

I ignored it.

Now, hold on…

Please don’t misunderstand. I enjoy hearing from someone with whom I’ve lost touch with; however, not when it’s explicit that the person clearly just wants something from me. Instead, I seek relationships founded on mutual give-and-take, consistency and trust. Frankly, I don’t think I’m alone.

What’s more, I always assume that your approach with me equates to how you’ll treat my clients and influencers. I believe that motivation shows itself within one’s approach.

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 four 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.

#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.

RELATED: Sign up for my free monthly marketing tip. Receive creative and practical ideas to help you grow your small business.

#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 quick note with a link to a relevant article. For example, 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, I think you’ll find this college funding trend study very helpful. Sincerely, Phil.”

#4 — Do some research before making contact, a.k.a., 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. Imagine reaching out to Joe (above) and mentioning his deceased wife in the present tense. Not a good first impression.

As an aside, during the drafting stage of this post, I jumped out of bed one night and scribbled a note to change my lead-in comment, “I ignored it.” My concern was that you’d think I’m unprofessional. But then I realized, whether you think that or not, my actions are a sign of the times. We’re working in an era of communication bombardment and massive digital clutter. To cut through this chaos, you must make it clear to your former client, colleague, etc., how your outreach benefits them. Otherwise, you’re simply wasting your time. And time is money!

RELATED: Are you turning business away unbeknownst to you because of a personal image problem? Find out by reading my special report: 14 Image-building Dos & Don’ts.

Raining Revenue Small Business Marketing Strategies

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


It’s been a long time, I hope you’re doing well. I’d love/like to reconnect and hear about what’s going on 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.

RELATED: Check out Alan Garner’s excellent book, Conversationally Speaking: Tested New Ways to Increase Your Personal and Social Effectiveness.” It was an effortless read and provided 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. Definitely beach or cruise-worthy reading material! Please note that I’m an Amazon affiliate. Nevertheless, I purchased and read this book. It’s definitely worth anyone’s time who needs to keep a conversation going, e.g., salesperson, consultant, small business owner of any kind, parent, husband/wife, etc. ~ Sharron

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.

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Thanks for reading and sharing!