Having recently left my corporate position has given me some perspective on attempting to preserve the work friendships with the co-workers I left behind. Here are three tips that can help you stay friends with former colleagues.
Tip #1 for Staying Friends with Former Co-Workers: Schedule Lunch ASAP
As soon as your schedule allows, plan to get together with your former colleagues to catch up. Keep in mind that your former co-workers will probably still talk about what is going on at the office. This is to be expected because the common bond you used to have involved work. Depending on the circumstances that caused you to leave your job, this may or may not be a good thing.
If you’ve heard enough about the latest office gossip at your old job, change the direction of the conversation to include more personal topics such as family and hobbies. If you want to stay friends with your former co-workers, you need to establish a new common bond.
Scheduling a regular lunch once a month or even once a business quarter shows your former co-workers that you are committed to staying friends with them.
Tip #2 for Staying Friends with Former Co-Workers: Stay Connected
In between social engagements, it is important to check in with your former co-workers if you want to remain friends. Again, these people don’t see you every day at the office and if you let too much time pass, they are liable to forget about you. Reach out with e-mail, phone calls, instant messaging, and social networking applications.
LinkedIn is a great tool for staying friends with former colleagues. LinkedIn is similar to other social networking sites but focuses on preserving and fostering business relationships.
Tip #3 for Staying Friends with Former Co-Workers: Be Sensitive To Their Work Situation
Bringing up how fabulous your new job time after time is not a good idea. Be sensitive to the fact that your former co-workers may be jealous or even feel upset that you have left your former job. You can be sure a couple of months or weeks down the road, you’ll be griping about work related problems again. Reassure your former co-workers that you only left the job behind, not them.
Staying friends with co-workers can be challenging at times, but you never know when a professional opportunity will arise that results from continuing to network with your former colleagues.