The Appreciation Factor

All things Appreciation: Things to Appreciate and the Ways we look at, Show and Think about Appreciation.


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Heartfelt Wishes

Happy New Year

new-yearsPhoto Credit: Paperless PostThe Indigo Bunting/Erin Jang

 

I wanted to take a moment to Thank All of You… my Followers especially, but also the visitors, mentors, and fellow bloggers as well, that continue to visit and/or comment on my site, The Appreciation Factor.  I hope you’ve found the posts helpful, insightful, or that they’ve provided a new point of view. I’m so grateful for you all.

 

I know I didn’t post as often as I should have wanted to this year, but my passion for all things Appreciation has not wavered, but simply the act of completing the posts was challenging at times for me. This was especially true when I always wanted to ensure that my posts and topics are fresh/new content and paused when I wasn’t sure that it was.  Still for 2017, I hope to overcome these insecurities challenges and get more posts out in the new year.

Know that I’m forever grateful for your support, and for those that continue (or start) to follow this blog. You cheer me and humble me simultaneously.

 

May you have much success and happiness in 2017!
I hope you’ll come back for fresh content, tips on saying and writing thank yous (or just notes),
and for new things to appreciate.

I do have a few ideas up my sleeve and hope to start posting in early January. (Thanks for your patience!)

Sincerely,

k of taf

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Staying the Path – Followers Come as They May

You may not all know it, but I recently celebrated The Appreciation Factor’s 3rd anniversary. (It’s January 31st.) 

I’ve found it rewarding, challenging, scary and candidly every once in a while, hard. The hard part is sometimes finding topics that feel true to not only who I am, but what I wanted this blog “to do/accomplish” in the first place. That is:

Share some thing new or Make you think about something in a new/different way.

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You Could Change a Life … or at Least Someone’s Day

As you’ve seen read know by now, I’m/the Appreciation Factor is a huge proponent of writing and sending Thank You notes.  I’m also in support of writing and sending what I call the “Just Because” note.  

I think that we are all affected by one person or another each and every day – and many times in a positive way.  So I ask, why not send a note (a”Just Because” note) to those who we want to reconnect with, those who help us, inspire us, positively challenge us and/or care about us?  I believe that we all can benefit from an unexpected note of cheer if we’re feeling down, going through a challenge or transition, or even be congratulated as reinforcement on a good job.

Now I’m not saying, as my title may allude to, that my or your note is definitely going to save a life, but who knows?  Words are powerful. Perhaps your note will arrive at just the right time to be that force of change, the one thing that changes an attitude, inspires and/or turns things around.  Can you think of a note you’ve received that’s meant a lot to you?  Personally, I have several notes that I carry in my planner.  I have one that recognized me for acting professionally in a very challenging and negative situation, one where I’d sent a gift that was especially meaningful, and another that shared how my actions created a positive reaction in someone else’s life.  I re-read each of them periodically.

My Approach in 2015:

I’m sure you’ve been reading/seen quite a few resolutions online already.  I’ve even seen several resolutions where the writer plans to increase her/his appreciation.  I decided to take things a step further. (As an aside, I don’t set resolutions, I create goals to strive towards.)

One of my goals this year is to “Write 1 note of appreciation/just because note (hand written is preferred*), each week or minimally 2-3 times a month.” 

It’s sounds a bit daunting I know. How many of us find time to keep up with all of the “To Dos” we already have on our plate, let alone adding a task that will take concerted energy, effort and stamps!  As this is in conjunction with my commitment and desire to be even more thoughtful and appreciative in the coming year, I think I will be successful.
(These will be in addition to the Thank You notes I already write after interviews, receiving gifts, going to lunch etc..)

Here are just a few examples of the types of Just Because notes I hope to write (I’m sure more will naturally come to mind as I progress through the year):

  • A note to tell someone how much they’ve inspired me
  • A compliment on a good job – (e.g., a note to our handyman for keeping the property running efficiently)
  • Congratulations on an achievement I’ve heard or read about
  • An “I’m impressed” for someone who acted with integrity through a challenging time
  • Encouragement to a job seeker or friend running/starting their own business
  • “Just because I was thinking of you today” – when something I’ve seen or heard made me think of a friend or colleague or simply just because they are my friend

I’m really looking forward to working on this goal.  I think that even the simple task of finding/buying fun and interesting stationary and blank note cards will add to my success.  Don’t get me a wrong, do I think a call would be a great way to connect and express my sentiment, or even a store-bought greeting (vs. blank) card?  Sure, but I’ve always found that the personalized hand written notes I’ve received have been the most powerful.  I’ve appreciated the extra effort it took to write something and mail it.  In fact, I have several that I keep in my planner that I have read many times over because they’ve meant so much.

Here are some cards I already have on hand. (I’ve tried to list the source or a link to purchase where possible.)

Just Because Cards 2

Clockwise from Left to Right Row by Row. 1. Vineyard Vines Patchwork (Unfortunate Appears to be sold out – Try your local VV shop), 2. Be Optimistic unknown source (picked up at craft fair), 3. Ciao (Unknown was a gift),
4. “It’s My Bag” by Simply K (I make these. Contact me for details.), 5. Anchor Thank you Paperchase, 6. Blank Stationary,
7. Turquoise/Orange Spiral graph Flowers In May (Ask for info as I bought at an outdoor market), and 8. Hey Stranger Paperless Post electronic card.

*My one exception to the hand written note is using an electronic one when I don’t have a mailing address.  My new favorite resource (for those of you who read my post about Electronic Thank You Cards – which I’ve since updated), is Paperless Post.  This is a great free* site that does not limit the number of online cards you can send.  (*The site requires “coins” if you want to send one with an “envelope,” a designer card (e.g., Kate Spade), and for some select categories.  However, upon registration you’ll receive 25 free coins!)  Paperless Post also has the option of  sending your personalized cards as a paper option through the mail.   It’s definitely worth checking out!

*NOTE I am NOT paid nor compensated by Paperless Post. I simply really like using it! Plus they are great listeners when it comes to feedback. A tracking improvement suggestion I made is already in the works!

 

While promising to write a set number of cards per week or month can be too much for most people.  I hope you’ll consider sending out at least a few of these Just Because notes in the coming year.  The time and consideration will definitely make an impact on your recipient, and should she/he say thanks, you’ll hear in their voice how much this extra effort meant to her/him.

Do you already send Just Because notes?   What has prompted you to mail one?  Have you ever received one that resonated with you?  Do you keep it on hand to read again and again?  Think you might try to write some this year?


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Customers and Networking Contacts Deserve Your Thanks

It seems to be that time of year, where the question has come up again about how to appropriately say thank you to your customers and networking contacts or (to my horror) whether you should even take the time to send a thank you.

Just today I came across two references on this topic. One referred to the sales benefits you could attain by saying thanks (at all times of the year), and the other was around the topic of whether to send holiday cards as a way to show a business’ appreciation.

In the blog post by Julian Bush on Financenk’s, business development blog, called 4 Ways to increase Sales by Showing Gratitude to Customers he addresses four key areas about appreciation.  This article was totally up my ally as it had overall resounding support of showing and thinking about appreciation at all times.  Bush’s first two points supported my belief that your customers and networking contacts deserve the time to say thanks.  It’s his view that to succeed in business is to show gratitude.

Here are the two points that resonated with me regarding the client and network perspective:

Those who have helped you. 

He recommends taking time each day to send a thank you message via email, text, or Internet greeting card, (See my recommendation for this last one) to those who may have, for example, referred a client or helped you in some way.

I agree, though for me, every day might be too overwhelming and I’d want to ensure that the act of showing my appreciation was meaningful vs. a chore. (It would NOT however, be dependent upon how large or small the act of assistance or kindness was.)Picture1

 

Are you appreciative for knowing someone?

Bush’s expression of gratitude expands to all who positively impact your life. This could be your family, your friends, your customers and colleagues.  He believes that to share this appreciation will attract more of the same assistance and likely reciprocal gratitude your way.

 

 

His last two areas talk to written affirmation of what your thankful for as a whole, and in your daily life. Both are worth a review.

Bush sums up his post with the statement that by taking the time to show gratitude to your clients will reap the rewards of deep loyalty, an increase in client retention and profits. I really can’t argue this fact, as many of my clients have remained close over the span of 10-12 years. I think this partly due to my ongoing recognition of their assistance and simply their support of my business and/or services.

 

Xmas Thank you note

This leads me to the second reference I found today.  I came across this in one of my LinkedIn Groups, Sticky Branding.  A lead contributor, Jeremy Miller, posed the question, “What’s your take on the practice of sending season’s greetings cards to clients.”  While the response ran the gamut of sending personalized cards, to ones that go out at Thanksgiving or New Year’s, the answer was a resounding “YES!”  Again, I’m fully in support.  We should always extend our appreciation to those who have helped along the way.

Each year around this time, I feel lucky as I start compiling a list of customers, clients, network contacts, and colleagues who have been instrumental to my success over the past year.  Just prior to the Christmas holiday, I’ll send out cards (both traditional, non-secular printed cards or an email card (see my post on a great resource) wishing this group, “Season’s Greetings” and a reminder of how much their help, their business or general goodwill to me during the year has meant.  This list truly reminds me of how blessed I’ve been.  *NOTE: I don’t see these cards as taking the place of the acknowledgement I would have sent at the time of the action/assistance.

Thanksgiving TY Note

There were many takes on the timing of these cards. Some proposed the Thanksgiving holiday time – which I agree, is right in line with the holiday’s meaning as we think about it today. Others expounded on the “Christmas” card time frame, still others a New Year’s timing.

While I personally aim for Christmas, I thought the New Year’s group had a point. Perhaps if I delayed my delivery slight, my card could provide more impact. My card/message would be seen/read and break through the clutter. However, I did disagree with the strategy some who’s goal was to send these notes to increase business.  I send my holiday cards as a message of appreciation and thanks.  I’d like to think that no matter my timing, that the sentiment (and yes I do include a personalized 1-2 sentence thank you on each and every card I send) would be received/appreciated no matter when it reaches my recipients mail/in box.

 

 

What you do you think?
Does your business send cards?  Do you personally send notes when someone has helped you or after you’ve completed a project with a client?  Do you see your cards or thank you notes as a way to increase business/used to impact business?  Would you send one regardless of the financial impact they may or may not have? Or is there an impact on your brand or company that you think sending these out may have?


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In Business It’s Always a Great Practice

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.

Writing a HW TY Note

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:

  1. It makes a lasting impression, long after you’ve verbally said thank at the time of the interview, assistance or business interaction.
  2. 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.
  3. 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…

Stats

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.Thank you note
  • 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.

Do you use these same or similar tips?  Have you ever benefited from sending a thank you note?  Are there other instances you think require a thank you note?


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Plenty To Be Thankful For

This week we’ll celebrate Thanksgiving.  It’s often a time for reflection and appreciation for what and who we have in our lives. 
I thought I’d share the top 5 things I’m most thankful for this year…
        1. My Dad…    He’s provided on-going support, guidance and a hug if/when needed.  (Hey everyone needs a good hug now and then!)

        2. My family (which includes my friends who I often consider family)…   For many of the same reasons.  They have listened closely, but instead of judging me, have provided candid feedback and support when I needed it most. Plus no one can make me laugh at myself more than they can.

        3. My health…  I’ve been fortunate stay healthy this year – knock on wood!

        4. Ability to Roll with the Punches (or Try to)…Today’s economy is challenging.  We’ve all been asked to make changes, sacrifices and do things we may not have thought we could or would have in the past.  At times this year I’ve gone in directions I never thought I would — some of which have proved awe-inspiring and have had great outcomes, others… not so much.  I’ve enduring challenges that seem insurmountable — but were not.  I’ve also shown a brave face when adversity came calling — proving I could carry on.  **This one is partly due to the support I’ve received from the first two on my list. 
        5. Confidence to Launch this Blog…  It was a long time ambition of mine to write more/become an author — and when it became easier to start your own blog, it was something I aspired to do. I’m so happy that I started writing The Appreciation Factor and that I’ve been lucky enough to attract and gain great new followers like you each day.

          A special thanks to those who encouraged me to take chance in the beginning and who followed me from day 1.  I’ve also enjoyed hearing about people/followers who have found and read my posts through other means, and those who have sent great ideas for new ones.  You inspire me — Keep them coming!!

What are you most thankful for??
I’d love to hear your list!

P.S.  On a related note, some companies have started to send Thanksgiving cards vs. the traditional Christmas/Holiday cards to thank me for my business/patronage this year. (So far I’ve received two and candidly would welcome this trend with open arms…))
HAVE YOU RECEIVED ANY?


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Thank You – I Appreciate Your Support

297!!!
Wow… as of this May 3rd post, I’ve reached 297 views!!  I’ve even apparently reached someone in Singapore!  How they found me  is something I’d really love to know!

Before I post my next blog topic, I wanted to take a minute to say thank you.  Thank you for your support, for reading and for your feedback (both the positive AND negative comments).  You guys are simply the best and you keep me researching, looking for and finding new topics to share and discuss.

Getting Here
When I embarked on this journey in January… it was after many, many months of trying to determine what I wanted to write about that wasn’t just added noise.  I’ve always wanted to try to focus more on the positive things in life.  Often we see so much negativity, in how people react to one another, in the news, and in our economy.  It’s truly disheartening.  Why not focus on the positive, even if it’s in the small things?  Maybe my words/point of view could spark a change for the better.

 

All in all, my goal was as simple as having you, the audience, think about all things around appreciation.  This included thinking about how we appreciate things and those around us, how we show that appreciation and/or identifying a topic or point of view that you, or even me, may have never heard about or considered.

 

So Far So Good.  I Think I’m Accomplishing My Goal.  
I’ve received feedback that I’ve sparked conversations about previously unknown subjects, provided a different view –  even if it was one that the reader disagreed with, and I have even made some of you start outwardly expressing your love and appreciation of people and other things.  I too have been affected in this process.  I tend to appreciate those around me more, I try to be more patient and understanding and I try to look at things more deeply versus just giving something a cursory glance.  I don’t believe that I could write about and share these topics with you without trying to live or approach things in the same way. 

 

Have a Topic that You’d Like Me to Address?
Before I sign off, I do want to put out a request for ideas.  While I have several articles in the works, I’d truly love to hear if there is something that you would like me to cover in a future post. 

  • Is there something that you’d like to see change or be viewed differently? 
  • Do you appreciate something that you don’t feel many other people do?
  • Is there a new way to appreciate something or someone, that you want to share?
  • Do you know of someone I should interview and/or feature in the blog?
  • Something else you want to share?

Let me know about it… I’m always open to new ideas, approaches and feedback. 

And again, thank you so very much for you support.  I hope you’ll keep reading, and maybe even refer a friend or two!
Kris