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Advice for Students

A Powerful Business Tool: Handwritten Thank You Notes

July 02, 2013  |     |   0 Comment

Thank you noteWhile the rules of business etiquette evolve and change over time, a handwritten thank you note will never go out of style. Good manners go hand-in-hand with good business practices.  A handwritten thank you note is a powerful business tool that will enhance a person’s professional presence, strengthen relationships, and distinguish them from the competition.  All pluses in the competitive business arena.

The purpose of a thank you note is to express appreciation and gratitude for a person’s time, assistance, consideration or generosity. It is appropriate to send a handwritten thank you note as a follow up in numerous business situations such as after a job interview; after a business lunch, dinner or party; after an introductory meeting; when you receive a referral; when a networking connection has given you his or her time and advice; or when you have received a gift from a client or co-worker.

Taking the time to send a handwritten thank you note leaves a positive and lasting impression with the recipient and demonstrates that you value the relationship.  It also enables you to stay in the forefront of their mind for future business or job opportunities.

To be effective, a handwritten thank you note should be sent as quickly as possible after the meeting, job interview, networking event, etc., while the encounter is still fresh in the recipient’s mind. The more prompt you are, the more memorable your overall impression will be. The rule of thumb is to send the correspondence within 24 hours.

Business-related thank you notes should be concise and convey a professional image. High quality stationary, such as a cream or white-colored card with an embossed “Thank You” on the front is appropriate. The inside of the card should be blank so you can handwrite your personalized message of gratitude.

To ensure your handwritten thank you note has a positive impact, it is important that your handwriting is neat and legible. If you are unsure of the quality or clarity of your handwriting, show a sample to a trustworthy friend or coworker. If you need to brush up on your presentation, write a few drafts of your note so you can practice your handwriting. Taking the time to write slowly and carefully can help to improve the appearance and legibility of your handwriting.

A few lines is a perfectly acceptable length; you don’t need to write several paragraphs.  Begin your handwritten thank you note with the salutation “Dear” and address the recipient formally, such as, “Dear Ms. Jones.”

Next, thank the person by noting the specific issue you are writing to them about. Recognize the effort that went into what he or she did for you. Be sincere, and make it clear how much you appreciate their time and effort and how it will help you going forward. Close your handwritten thank you note by using “Yours Truly” or “Sincerely.”

The one small challenge of the handwritten thank you note as a follow up in business is that it is not an instant form of communication. It takes time to write and send in snail mail. It is appropriate to use email as a supplement to a handwritten thank you note, especially in a situation where it would be detrimental to wait 24 hours to send correspondence to demonstrate your gratitude and interest, such as after a job interview. The benefit of sending a thank you email is that it is fast and convenient.

Email is also an appropriate form when it has been the primary mode of correspondence between you and the person you wish to thank. The main disadvantage associated with emailed thank you notes though, is that they are more liable to get buried in a person’s inbox, potentially lost or ignored, and less likely to stand out in the recipient’s mind.

If you do choose to send a thank you email, it is best to keep it short, simple and professional. Tailor the subject line of your email by including information specific to your business relationship or what the thanks is for, such as, “Thank You for Consideration of My Application” or “Thank You for Meeting With Me Today.”

Remember that your thank you email speaks volumes about your professional image. If it is wrought with spelling and grammatical errors you will leave a negative impression and the business relationship or your consideration for a job, could be jeopardized. Proofread, proofread, proofread! In addition, have a trusted friend review it before you hit “send.”

At the end of the day, regardless of how fast-paced and high-tech the business arena may be, it is important to consider the kind of business relationships you want to create and nurture. How do you wish to demonstrate your gratitude and appreciation for another person’s time, assistance, consideration or generosity? How do you wish to leave a positive and lasting impression with the recipient, demonstrate that you value the relationship, and stay in the forefront of their mind for future business or job opportunities. Never underestimate the power of a handwritten thank you note as a follow up in business to enhance your professional presence and use as a tool to help you accomplish your business and career goals.

 

 


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