Friday, August 3, 2007

How to write a thank you

I am a big believer in "thank you" notes. It's the way my mother raised me and it stuck. I have noticed in business that many people don't seem to know when it is appropriate to thank people.

Ann Marie Sabath in her book Business Etiquette offers a great rule of thumb. If someone does something for you that takes longer than 15 minutes of his or her time, a written "thank you" is appropriate. She also counsels against sending an e-mail thanks, except when the effort the other expended on your behalf is minimal.

Some experts argue that a typed letter is more appropriate in business settings. However, I usually send handwritten notes. I keep several boxes of professional looking thank you cards on hand and even if I'm a little late, I still send them.

Write legibly! Many of us write so infrequently now that our handwriting may be difficult to decipher.

Here are some of the reasons I find to send notes.
  • When a colleague refers business to me. Many people will not refer business again to colleagues who don't say thanks, at least via e-mail.
  • When a client retains your services, especially for the first time.
  • When a client pays me for larger projects and from time to time, just to say "thanks" for their continued patronage.
  • When a potential client takes time out of his or her busy day to listen to me pitch my services.
  • When a colleague provides input or advice beyond casual assistance.

Always keep the tone professional. If you don't think your recipient has your business card, enclose one, otherwise, you can omit your card. Don't enclose more than one card because it may appear that you're looking for more referrals.

If the referral is a major one, a gift may be appropriate such as candy, flowers or a gift card. This varies by company and its corporate policy, so be sure you send something they can accept.

People like to help, but most appreciate being acknowledged for their assistance. It only takes a few moments to write the note, but it is often the right thing to do.

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