Should You Stay Friendly With a Former Boss?

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“Never burn your bridges because you never know when you might need someone’s help some day.”

I’ve never forgotten this tidbit of wisdom from a colleague many years ago. It seems once we leave a job for greener pastures, most of us are ready to put everything behind us, including our relationships with our supervisors and CEOs. We’re eager to start our new jobs or business opportunities. The last thing on our minds is keeping in touch with former bosses. As time passes, those relationships tend to be relegated to a dust pile, long forgotten.

But is that prudent? In an age when our business connections are vital to our success, shouldn’t our relationships with former bosses be a key component of our network?

Yet, how many of us keep in touch with our supervisors? It seems the only time we touch base with them is when we need their help – or a reference. That could be once every few years, or even a decade. Most of us prefer to keep our jobs and our bosses in the rear view mirror, with no intent to re-engage with them. But there are times when keeping those relationships alive can benefit you and your career.

I’m not talking about forming a close friendship with your former boss. But remaining friendly with them over time builds goodwill. With social media sites like Linked In, Twitter and Facebook, it’s much easier now to stay in touch with past supervisors than it was many years ago when I started my career.

A quick phone call every few months to say hello is always welcome. Another option is a brief email to recognize milestones, such as a birthday or a promotion. It’s not necessary to contact them often; usually once or twice a year is sufficient, more often if you had a much closer working relationship.

Keeping these relationships alive can benefit you and your career in a number of ways:

* It helps build goodwill for the long term. Express your gratitude for how they helped you in your career.

* They can be a source of support and professional advice when you need it. Likewise, you never know when they might need support and advice from you.

*They can provide a positive reference for you when you seek new job opportunities.

* It can open the door to new opportunities to rejoin the company working for your boss again in a difference capacity.

* It can present an opportunity to rejoin your supervisor if they move to a different company.

You don’t have to be close friends with your boss, but it does help to remain friendly with them. You never know when you might need their assistance, or how you might be able to help them.

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