30 December, 2008

Benefits of the Simple "Thank You" Note

This post highlights the importance of sending thank you notes to benefit your professional advancement. With the coming new year, many of us look back and take mental note of the many things we are thankful for.

For me, if you read the archives of this blog, you will learn that New Year's Day last year (2007), I broke my leg during a sledding accident. I was in crutches and rehab for over 6 months, and almost a year later, I am thankful that my leg has fully recovered and that I am walking without a limp. I am also thankful for completing my Masters Degree, and for the birth of my new baby boy born on Nov. 19. This was a crazy year, I am thankful that my family and I have made it through, and I'm thankful for all of you have lended your support and encouragement,

This type of feeling toward gratitude can be applied to your business correspondence and image as well. Whenever someone takes the time to interview you, have a business meeting with you, if someone sends you a thoughtful email about you and your work, or if someone does something nice for you...say thank you.

Believe it or not, I see people not saying thank you after a kind gesture. I guess I'm from the old school, but I consider it a sign of respect and consideration, where you bestow value on the person. Not saying thank you makes you appear rude and inconsiderate. The person who helped you didn't have to do something nice for you, but they did, at least say "thanks". In raising my kids, they know that I think highly of saying "Thank You" when appropriate, and if they don't say it someone's going to get into trouble.

In business, this is just as important, but if you want to take it step further, extend that gratitude by sending a simple "Thank You" note. Sure, a simple thank you email or thank you e-card is fine, these suffice and ecards are fun, but the "Thank You" note reigns supreme as the best choice. Use it judicially and in times when you want to make the most impact. Here are four excellent reasons why this works.

  1. Classy: Sending a handwritten note, is a refined timeless and personal form of expression. In our new digital age, many people don't write personalized handwritten letters anymore. The fact that you took the time to do it makes you look good.

  2. Nice Surprise: The recipient of the "Thank You" note, will probably get the note in a mail box, where the note will be discovered while sifting through a sea of bills or unwanted junk mail. The note will be a pleasant surprise especially if it follows a business meeting or job interview that went over well.

  3. Spreading Love: There's not enough love going around in the world. Here's your chance to spread some around. Everyone wants to be loved, respected and valued.

  4. Marketing: (This is the most interesting) Sending a "Thank You" note also gives you another opportunity to get in front of the person in charge of making the decision. In a competitive market where there are many talented people competing for the same jobs, you now have a second chance to make a nice sincere connection and impression a few days after the initial contact. Also, many people are not that quick to dispose of or recycle a nice card, so you actually get to hang out on the person's desk a few more days. That's cool.

As an exercise, I tell my students to imagine themselves interviewing for that dream job. The meeting goes well, you look sharp, you're alert, you seem to connect with the interviewer, you ask great questions and you give a slew of competent answers. Both parties leave thinking that the meeting was successful. There are other people who have had similar successful interviews before and after you but you have feeling that you will be one of the finalists. Now imagine this interviewer getting a thank you note from you thanking them for their time, and how it was a pleasure meeting with them. You now have just instilled personal value in that person reading the thank you note and you have also instilled value in yourself. Not only are you skilled and the perfect match for the job, but with the thank you note, you are perceived as thoughtful, polite, classy, stylish, sharp and that you will work well in a group. These are nice attributes associated with your name. Unlike your competitors, you have subconsciously been reconsidered a second time. Isn't it amazing what a single, simple, well written note can do?

So the next time you are up for an interview, a business meeting with clients, or if you just want to tell someone that you appreciate them, send a simple "Thank You" note. You"ll be doing yourself and the world a favor.

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