by Nancy Schnoebelen Imbs
published by ASAP
I recently sent a personal note to a client thanking her for the privilege of working with the company. I wrote to tell her I recognize they have many choices with whom they conduct business, and I greatly appreciated their trust and commitment to me. The gesture was not a business development tactic to gain more work or a marketing strategy to keep my name front and center in their minds. I simply sent the handwritten note as an expression of my gratitude, nothing more, nothing less.
Within a week, I received a phone call from the recipient thanking me for taking the time out of my day to acknowledge a business relationship. She went on to tell me she keeps special notes like mine as a reminder of the kindness she and the company receive. After the phone conversation, I thought, “Wow, she took the time to thank me when the intention of writing her the note was to thank her.”
“Appreciation can change a day even change a life.
Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.”
~ Margaret Cousins
This is one example of how the power of a personal note can have on you and your organization. It not only delivers a message of kindness, respect, and appreciation, it often has that boomerang effect where you, too, will feel good about the kind gesture. The feeling of contentment goes both ways.
With technology at our fingertips, it’s easy and convenient to compose a note by email or text, but taking the time to hand write a message on personal or work stationary or card is the gold standard and can have a lasting, powerful effect.
Challenge yourself to look at handwritten notes not as a chore but as enjoyment and positive impact. The more you put this top business etiquette skill to practice, the more skilled and comfortable you will become. You will develop a higher level of professionalism, and the ease of putting pen to paper will be effortless – and you’ll boost your confidence!
Follow these successful tips to help improve your handwritten notes.
If you are thanking someone for their time in meeting with you for coffee, lunch, or a gift, you should send your handwritten thank you note right away, within 48 hours. Make it a priority. The longer time has elapsed, the less of an impact your note will have.
Don’t Over Think It
Many of us get “stuck” in our note writing, not knowing what to say or how to say it. Don’t get bogged down with becoming a Pulitzer prize-winning note writer. Think of your message as a conversation and start writing. Soon your words will flow. For example, thanking someone for treating you to lunch can be as simple and gracious as, “Dear Sue, thank you for taking time to lunch with me and treating me to such a yummy salad! I enjoyed our conversation, especially about your career journey. You are an inspiration to me! Our next lunch is on me! I’ll be in touch soon to schedule another lunch meeting.”
We all like recognition and a pat on the back every now and then. Send a personal note for no reason except to acknowledge the person and let him/her know they are appreciated. It’s an act of kindness that will certainly bring a smile to their face, and the thoughtful gesture will reflect well on your character.
Be Clear and Concise
Handwritten notes are notes, short and sweet. The rule of thumb is approximately five sentences, that’s all you need to convey your message of appreciation.
Include Something Extra
Adding an item of interest to your handwritten note can be a terrific way to build your relationship. If, for example, you and the recipient met over coffee and your conversations included the passion you both have for cycling, send him/her a recent article about the most beautiful biking trails in the United States. Thoughtful, added gestures are simple, effective ways to boost your level of kindness and professionalism.
If your communication says you look forward to continued opportunities to get together, be sure to take on the responsibility of following through. Part of the power of a handwritten note is developing and maintaining your relationship. Follow up via email or phone to schedule your next meeting with something like, “I so enjoyed our meeting a month ago and would love to get together again if your schedule permits over the next few weeks. I have lots to share about the great advice you offered me on time management.”