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Six Tips for Harnessing the Power of a Thank You Note for Your Business

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 15/03/2016 Shuly Oletzky
THANK YOU NOTE © Eivaisla via Getty Images THANK YOU NOTE

"What a wonderful thing is the mail, capable of conveying across continents a warm human hand-clasp." ~Author Unknown
In October 2014, I was in Annapolis Maryland for a boat show when I saw Kyle Mosher of Kyle and I had met at a show in Florida the year before. I didn't know if he would remember meeting me, but I went and said hello anyway.

Not only did he remember me, he embraced me with a warm smile and friendly hug and said he was so glad to see me. Kyle then told me he had received the thank you note I sent following the show in Florida and shared what an impact it had on him. This made me feel good, but what he told me next moved me. After receiving my note, Kyle was so moved that he implemented the practice and sends personal thank you notes himself.

What started as a brief introduction has developed into a wonderful friendship and valuable business relationship between our companies.

If not for a simple letter that took me a minute or two to write and send, this connection may still have developed in some form, however, the impact and quick connection we made bonding over that experience created a lasting relationship.

I grew up in a family where thank you notes were just a way of life. When we got a present from a relative or family friend, we sent a thank you note. When someone visited us unexpectedly and did something nice for us, we sent a thank you note. What started as an act of respect out of a habit has turned into something that has benefitted me greatly as a business owner and can work for your business as well. Here are six tips to help you harness the power of thank you notes:

Always Take Good Notes: The more information you have, the better and easier it will be to write. I write down the following information on business cards I receive from people I will want to follow up with:
- Where I met them
- What their needs are
- What they are interested in
- Personal details (hobbies, family, occupation) they may share
- Contact information (if they don't have a business card, ask for them to write down how is best to reach them)

Create your own list of the information you want to collect from each person to help you follow up with them afterwards. You may not use all of this information, but it will come in handy when you have a follow-up call or email with them later down the line.

Write Them Yourself: YOU have to write them! You can't have your assistant do it for you; this has to be personal and from you. In addition to the personal touch, I've found that writing these notes personally helps me remember information that is useful in the future.

Don't Ask for Anything: A thank you note, like a sales letter, serves a specific purpose. Do not sell in a thank you note! I don't ask them for anything because that isn't the purpose of the note. However, you will want to reference what you talked about to let them know this note is unique, that you remembered them, and that your discussion was important. End the note with an offer to assist them in the future and mention that you are happy to help.

Note: You can mention a product or service if they had a specific question or that is what you primarily discussed. Make sure to keep any sales pitch or sales oriented call-to-action out of this note. Instead, ask to set up a phone call to catch up or invite them out for coffee if you want to offer something specific to keep the conversation going.

Put a Card in the Card: The thank you card is to thank them, not to market yourself or try to sell them anything, but it is appropriate to add your business card to the thank you note. The person you are contacting should have easy access to your contact information, and your business card does exactly that. Don't assume they have kept your business card even if you already gave it to them when you first met.

Send in an Appropriate Time Frame: Thank you cards in business situations are different than thank you cards for a gift you received from a relative. I don't usually send cards immediately after I get back from an event.

For example, the 2015 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (FLIBS) ended on November 9th. Because I didn't want the card to get lost in the shuffle of Thanksgiving and competing with all of those Christmas cards, I sent it right after the first of the year. I received far more responses than if I would've sent the card right away while they were still recovering from the event or preparing for the holidays. Use your best judgement to send in a timely manner while considering what may be going on in their life or business around the time they receive the note.

Create Additional Line of Contact/Communication: On occasion, letters get lost or sent to the wrong address, and not everyone opens their mail. Without coming across aggressive or desperate, you can create an additional line of communication by making a connection with the person you're contacting after you've sent a thank you note. Add them as a connection on LinkedIn or another social network to create another opportunity to be seen by them and build a relationship off of this connection.

Giving thanks is a wonderful way to remind people that they matter to you and will serve as a friendly reminder that you exist and care about them. In addition, the connections that are made through this gesture of kindness create a lasting, positive influence on others about you and your brand which is good for business.

You always have a reason to send a thank you note -- to share your gratitude. Who should you thank and what connections would you like to build to a greater degree? Start going through your files and pull out all of the business cards you've collected to start writing thank you notes today.

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