I wanted to follow up with the 2nd in the 3-part series about Why We Say Thank You, and today I’m focusing on Business Thank you notes.
I am a big proponent of saying thank you and especially in sending thank you notes. I believe that saying thank you is one of the best business practices you can follow. Thank you notes show that you are professional, you can be humble, they can help set you apart and land that great job you may be after, and they can help build strong, long-lasting relationships with colleagues, customers, prospects and key industry influencers; plus it is expected.
When Should We Write Them In Business?
- After an interview (no matter if it was in-person, on the phone or via Skype)
- After you have received an endorsement or referral
- When you have received advice or assistance in your career or on a project (I’d recommend these for those outside of my immediate firm. Inside the firm a verbal thank you does the trick.)
- Thanking a customer for their ongoing patronage of your business or services
The Handwritten vs. Typed vs. Email
HANDWRITTEN: This is my absolute top choice with it comes to sending a thank you note. It shows that you care enough to take the extra time it takes to find a note card or stationary, write the appropriate appreciative sentiments, and put it in the mail. It will set you apart from many who will quickly jot down an email, because you will be more likely to take more time to think about what you want to express before you write it down than you might in an email. To me this is a win win classy approach.
TYPED: I have taken this approach at times where I felt the audience would be more receptive to a more formal approach. (e.g., financial institutions and clients often responded more favorably to the typed note or thank you.) I’ve also used this version when I felt I needed more space to clarify a point in greater detail than might fit on a 4×6 thank you note. (I’ll still keep it fairly brief and to the point — I’ll address some times momentarily –, but it might be more straight-forward, and actually can look shorter if you take this approach.
EMAIL: I may sound old-fashioned, but I do not believe in emailing a thank you note, especially after a job interview. I know that some believe that emailing shows that you are technically savvy and aware of today’s electronic practices and in some cases, immediacy of the send is critical. However, this method most often leaves me with the feeling that there was not a lot of thought that went into sending it, or that I couldn’t be bothered to write or type something and then put it in the mail.
If you absolutely feel that your handwriting is so poor that you message would be indistinguishable or if you’re applying to a company that expressed a dislike for all things paper – then email. BUT… in no uncertain terms, take a casual approach to the message, (e.g., use slang, use a tone that expresses too much familiarity (if he/she is someone you haven’t known/done business with before.) You should also never send a mass email or copy and paste the same body message to each of the recipients. Each messages should be sent to one individual and personalized in the body copy based on the situation and discussion that took place. They will compare your notes – I can guarantee that!
If you must send a note electronically, consider using an electronic card service like Puchbowl, or Hallmark (you can read more about these sites in my “An Electronic Thank You that even I Can Love” post.
Why Should I write One (Beyond the Above Reasons) aka What are the Potential Benefits?
Here are 3 Great Reasons:
- It makes a lasting impression, long after you’ve verbally said thank at the time of the interview, assistance or business interaction.
- It can help you build a solid business relationship with colleagues, customers and make a positive impression on prospects, that extends long after he/she has received the note.
- It can set you apart from another candidate if: he/she did not send one, or you both are equally matched and you expressed a point you forgot to mention in the interview. I can also show your attention-to-detail, especially if you hand write your note, and the other candidate sends a quick impersonal email.
DID YOU KNOW?
Thank you notes are expected by most hiring managers and recruiters. According to a CareerBuilder.com survey…
Helpful Tips for Successful Thank You Notes
While I can’t write it for you, nor go into too much detail here in the post, I have assembled some personal tips I like to use and a few I’ve found that were widely accepted and expressed in the articles/blogs/etiquette sites I’ve come across:
- Send within 24 hours of the event that prompts the thank you.
- Use a nice store-bought thank you card (not greeting card ) or personal stationary. Crane & Co. and Hallmark make some great boxed cards you can and should keep on hand.
- Add a “header” If you are typing the note – include your address at the top before the recipients and be sure include the date.
- Always address the recipient as “Dear Mr. or Mrs. and their last name. The exceptions, unless you’ve been given verbal approval to call them by their first name – you can never go wrong by being a little more formal here. It’s also often OK to use a first name after “Dear” if you already know them/have worked with them for some time.
- Refer to why you are writing to him/her – thank him/her for their time, the interview, the assistance etc.
- Keep the note as brief as possible, but be sure to add a comment, statistic or topic that you discussed. This can help set you apart and/or quickly remind the recipient who you are if they met several candidates over a long interview process. (e.g., you both love a trendy vacation spot, but shared a love for a lesser-known restaurant there… add it.)
- Include a point you wanted to clarify if you think it could have been misinterpreted, or one that you wanted to expand on. Keep it brief and better yet, bullet it if you can. Using bullets can also quickly draw the eye of the recipient for these key points you want to ensure he/she sees.
- Keep the tone professional, but add a little of your personality and don’t rehash everything that was discussed.
- Thank them again for their time, assistance etc. before closing the letter.
- Be sure to let hem know you’d like to keep in touch/see them again. It shows you enjoyed and benefited from the time you spent together or the help/advice you received.
- Enclose a business card, or contact information. If you didn’t hand him/her a business before you left, you can do that now, or minimally include a way for them to contact you again.
- Sign the note with “Sincerely”, or an “All the best”/”Best Regards” – Use something that is a little formal followed by your full name. NEVER sign these with “Love.” Remember these are business notes, not personal ones.
I hope this gets you on your way to writing successful and frequent thank you notes. Remember you can never go wrong in thanking someone. It can set you apart and can go a long way in bring you much success.