As a business development tool, gratitude and thank you notes sound soft and unlikely — but may make a difference.
As a way to set yourself apart from the other job candidates, they certainly work.
As a way to encourage lasting relationships with clients or colleagues, they can be remarkably effective.
And as a way to cultivate a more positive attitude and gratitude, say thank you to the thank you notes you send.
My pile of thank you notes and appreciations brings me joy for years after I received them. They came from former interns, people I’ve profiled and staffers whose jobs I have saved or created.
So when I interviewed Heidi Kallett for the Washington Post Capital Business, her message of thank you notes as a tool to build your business immediately resonated with me. The article explains much of her thinking and approach to them.
So I decided to look further at thank you notes, and what others say about them. On LinkedIn, I found many endorsements.
“The thank you note has more purposes than to simply show courtesy and professionalism, it extends the interview. I always tell my workshop attendees that the interview is not complete until you have sent the thank you note.,” Bob McIntosh wrote in a LinkedIn Answer recently. McIntosh is a career trainer for Career Center of Lowell, Mass., and points out thank yous allow you to correct any miscomunications that might have crept in.
“Taking the time to send a Thank You shows a lot of class and consideration,” Jason Shinn wrote on LinkedIn. He’s a business and employment lawyer in metro Detroit and has invested in them. “There are plenty of opportunities where a little appreciation for someone’s time/assistance is warranted.”
Next I did an online search and found more fans at university career centers and career coaches. Many give many sample thank you notes, which are good for starters but shouldn’t become your de facto approach to sending appreciations.
Then I returned to Kallett, a past President of the Junior League of Northern Virginia, who writes more than 100 thank yous a year to her clients, vendors and others connected to the Dandelion Patch shops. She learned to write thank you notes from her mother, develping her skill for years. She shared her best advice in developing a thank you note habit:
- Choose a pen that you enjoy writing with. Ballpoint or roller ball? Blue or black? Fine or Medium point? Everyone has a preference, so find yours -have it at the ready.
- Come up with several collections of stationery. The glittered high-heels don’t work for interview follow-up, but would be greatly appreciated by your BFF when thanking her for your birthday gift. Typically professional correspondence is either soft white or white in color with a tasteful and simple design – or only your monogram.
- Avoid the text tokens. When writing a professional thank you note, stay away from any smiley or frowning faces, the emoticons that pop up in text messages.
- As a habit, try to find 10 to 30 minutes a week to write notes of gratitude. Keep a post-it note or journal with your list of friends, associates that you’d like to personally thank. Write notes all at one sitting– trust her it is easier to do them all at once than to write one a day.
- Always keep a roll of stamps ready. You don’t want any excuses as to why these notes can’t make it into the mailbox.
Thank you, Heidi. That’s helpful advice for getting motivated to send thank you notes.