If you simply do what you say you will do, you will rise to the top of any company, organization, or industry. If you go above and beyond what you say you will do, you will be absolutely unstoppable.
One way to go above and beyond is by sending a personalized thank you note/card any time another person does something to help you. Yes, this sounds basic, and I realize I’m not the first person to tell you this. However, I guarantee you aren’t sending thank you notes as often as you should, and if you are sending thank you notes, they aren’t having the impact you hope they will.
Here are 6 major mistakes people make when sending thank you notes and cards:
- You don’t have your supplies handy. At all times, make sure you have thank you notes, envelopes, and stamps in your office and/or home. If they aren’t easily accessible, you’ll be much less likely to send them.
- You aren’t a speedy sender. If someone gives you career advice over the phone, send your thank you note right after your call. If someone meets with you for an informational interview or a job interview, send your note right after your meeting. The longer you wait, the less likely you will send your note.
- You don’t type AND write. Type a short email (or LinkedIn.com message) AND send a handwritten letter. In today’s electronic world, people expect a thank you note to be sent rapidly via email, so send your electronic message within a few hours. (I remember once being peeved that a friend had not emailed me to thank me for donating to a charity event she was participating in. Luckily, I didn’t say anything about it. She never emailed me to thank me, but her letter arrived in the mail a few days later.) By sending the email, you acknowledge the person immediately. The letter then arrives a few days later as an added appreciation of the other person. By sending both, you also make sure you reach the other person, in case they miss one of your efforts somehow.
- You don’t look professional. Make sure you use decent stationery, write legibly and in black or dark blue ink, and proofread before you send your letter.
- You don’t use a personalized P.S. Use discretion here, but you want to make people smile and/or laugh in your letter somehow. Here are a few examples:
“P.S. Can’t wait to hear about your trip to the Caribbean! You have to send me your pictures when you get back.”
Or… “P.S. It will be no small feat, but I think my Jets are going to destroy your Patriots this weekend.” (In case you missed it, that was a reference to the Rex Ryan “foot fetish scandal.”)
6. You rely too heavily on automatic card-sending services. Many of my friends use a card service like kodakgallery.com or sendoutcards.com. Personally, I think their cards look cheap and/or impersonal. (Sorry if any of you are reading this!) The purpose of a card (genuine, personalized appreciation and acknowledgement) is defeated when someone sends a card that they clearly mass-produced online and mailed to everyone they know without any personalization other than changing the name of the person the card was addressed to. Letters sent by mail should be handwritten (even if it’s just 1 sentence). Or, if they are typed, they should include a message unique to each person (even if it’s just 1 sentence).
2 Bonus tips for thank you notes after informational interviews or job interviews:
- Sell yourself: Include 1-2 sentences (no more than that) to reiterate why you want a certain job and why a certain employer should hire you.
- Use 1-2 sentences (max) to address any mistake, confusion, or omission from your informational interview or job interview.
In summary, thank you notes are absolutely imperative. When done right, they can build deeper relationships and help you advance your career. Want proof? People often thank me for sending them a thank you note! The greatest gift you can give someone is your genuine appreciation. Start giving the gift of a great thank you note today.
P.S. Please share your comments or thoughts as well!
-President of Idealize Enterprises
-Creator of The Dream Job College Tour
–Creator of The Washington Wizards’ Sports Careers Day
P.S. To learn more about my programs and availability for The 2011 Dream Job College Tour (or for individual career coaching), please send an email to Pete@IdealizeNow.com.