Wednesday, November 19, 2014

How To Write the Best Thank You Note -- My Tips for Success

What happened to the thank you note?

The most obvious answer is the Internet.  Yes, Al Gore's invention certainly has made a hand-written thank you note harder to come by than a silver dollar.

NOTE:  Don't write me (unless it's hand-written, of course).  I don't think Al invented the Internet -- I just still remember how funny it was when he said it.

Now, the younger people who work with me think I'm crazy -- especially about thank you notes after interviews.  I have been told by lots of business professionals (and not all in non-profits, by the way) that a thank you email is plenty of thanks after an interview.  They like the speed (I agree that the speediness part of an email is good) and I do understand that young people are just so comfortable with technology now because they have grown up with it.

NOTE:  One of my younger co-workers told me the other day that she so enjoys the Time Hop Application because she has been on FaceBook since she was a pre-teen, thus can see big changes in her photos, style, etc.  Even though Martha has aged a lot since 2004, I'm just a little older.  Funny how that works.

But to me, nothing beats a handwritten thank you note -- for any reason.  Yes, I want one after I interview someone for sure, but I also want one if I give you a gift, have you to my house for dinner, or just do you any kind of favor that you appreciate.  And when I say I want one for these reasons, I also pledge that you'll get one from me for same.  And since I do consider myself someone who writes thank you notes often, here are my best tips for success:
  1. Thank the person and explain why you liked the meeting, the gift, the favor.  A simple "Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today." is a perfectly appropriate first sentence.  Add in something else like "I so enjoyed hearing about your road to success in the non-profit world and I know that I will end up using your advice to further my career path."  Or for a gift "Damn, I have never seen a more perfect gift for me -- you know that orange is my favorite color -- and I've never seen underwear in that exact shade before!"
  2. Try to write the note the same day of the meeting or favor, or the next day and then get the damn thing in the mail.  I find that if I wait then I forget about it.  I have been known to send a second note just because I think maybe I forgot.  If you make a hard and fast rule to get the note out lickety-split, then you can rest easy.
  3. My favorite card to write is a small note card.  I love a personalized one (I always get mine at Paper Affair), but I have lots of them without personalization and they are fine too.  I like to have my full name on my cards since sometimes I think people might not know exactly who is writing them.  I know that sounds funny but it's true. If my full name is there on the card I can still sign it just Paige and they know for sure it's me and not some other Paige.  You would be surprised at how many Paiges can be invited to a huge holiday or charity event in Dallas.  If I'm going to the trouble to write I want credit for it, people!
I received this note yesterday.  Obviously from a very special boy with very special parents...

To me a thank you note means more than a silver dollar.  LOTS more.

P.S.  I wanted to report back that I have received a whole bunch of dolls for the Community Partners of Dallas' Toy Drive.  Many thanks to those of you who have sent them!  Here's a pic:

And yes, I have already mailed their hand-written thank yous -- who do you think you're dealing with?

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