As a child, my mom insisted I write a handwritten note thanking my Grandma Schmitt for her birthday check she sent me. I was told to do it before I went outside to play. I wasn’t happy – that thank you note stood between me and the game of kickball going down in my neighborhood. But the next time I visited my grandma, the note was taped to her avocado green refrigerator fridge. She told me, “Smiley, I sure liked your letter.”
That made me feel great.
After that, I took writing thank you notes serious. It’s a skill I have carried into my professional life. So how can you embrace this important habit which has become a lost art?
First, writing a thank you note after an interview should be a given. Carry stationary with you (with a stamp on the envelope), and drop it in the mail before you head home.
I’ve seen many excellent candidates not invited back. Why? Because they didn’t send a follow up email thanking the panel after the first round of interviews. Don’t let this be you. Send an email to each person you interviewed with. It doesn’t have to be long – one detail of the interview per person along with your interest in the position. Be sure to spell check it.
The thank you notes helped and you got the job. You’re meeting lots of new coworkers, whether on a Zoom call or in the office. A new acquaintance sticks out by something they’ve said to you. They offered you a piece of good advice or an interesting strategy. Don’t let the moment pass – drop them a note thanking them for taking the time to get to know you better.
These days, with so many emails sitting in our inboxes, receiving a handwritten note in the mail is a real treat. People will remember the gesture. I have a stack of thick flat note cards I pull out every couple of months to write notes. I jot down a memory, mention a recent social media post or say hello.
When I started Bee Young Comms, I hand wrote more than 250 notes to friends, family and past colleagues. Each note included a handwritten message and a business card. I received many congratulatory texts and emails. I also picked up several clients and referrals. I followed up on those referrals with a note of gratitude.
It isn’t what’s written in the note experts say, it’s the fact you sent it. Gratitude feels good. When I worked at the University of South Carolina, Henry Taylor called me on afternoon. A former football player, he asked for my Clemson football tickets. I felt bad because I’d given away my allotment, but we had a nice chat anyway. A week later, I opened an envelope with a note from Henry. Henry thanked me for taking his call and for being nice about the tickets I DIDN’T give him. That’s class and something I’ll never forget.
Stuck on what to say?
So, take five minutes, jot down that note you’ve been putting off. That kickball game will still be there when you head outside.
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