Fast Company

The Power of a Handwritten Note

I am working on a follow up book to Straight Talk for Success.  The working title is The Official Guide to Success.  I have been interviewing experts in each of the five keys to success that I discuss in Straight Talk: Self Confidence, Positive Personal Impact, Outstanding Performance, Dynamic Communication Skills and Interpersonal Competence.

Knowing and following the basic rules of etiquette -- along with creating and nurturing your personal brand, and being impeccable in your presentation of self -- is one of the drivers of positive personal impact.  Last week, I interviewed Lydia Ramsey, author of Manners That Sell, to get her thoughts on etiquette.

As usual, Lydia and I had a great conversation.  Just as we were ending, she said, “There’s one more thing, and it’s often forgotten or neglected these days…handwritten thank you notes.”  I smiled when she said that as I believe that handwritten thank you notes are a powerful way to not only differentiate yourself as a gracious and polite person, they also help build your personal brand.

The first President Bush credited his thank you notes with helping him build a solid network of supporters who played a big role in getting him elected.  Handwritten thank you notes work for Presidents – and they will work for you.

How do you feel when you get a handwritten note?  Surprised? Pleased? Happy?  I bet it’s probably a combination of all three.  In this day of email and text messaging, handwritten notes have almost gone the way of the horse and carriage. 

This is bad news for those who pine for a more gracious way of life.  It is good news for you, because it gives you a simple and easy way to create positive personal impact.

Here’s a personal story about the power of handwritten notes.  Several years ago, I was visiting a client.  He invited me to his home for dinner.  His wife was very gracious and prepared a lovely meal.  I sent her a thank you note. 

A few months later, I was working with him again.  This time, I took him and his wife out to dinner.  As soon as we sat down at the table, she reached into her purse and pulled out the thank you note I had written her months previous.  She said, “I was so excited to get this.  When Joe got home that day, I ran outside with the letter in my hand, saying ‘look what I got!’”

I have worked with this client ever since.  His wife always sends her best.  He’s told me that one of the reasons he keeps engaging me is the fact that his wife likes me so much.

This was a win-win for me.  I built a strong relationship with a client as a result of a simple thank you note.  Just as important, I did something that made another person feel appreciated and valued.  In other words, I created positive personal impact.

The day after our conversation, I sent Lydia a handwritten note.  It was the least I could do after she so graciously shared her thoughts with me.  My new book will be better because of her contribution.

The common sense point here is simple.  Handwritten thank you notes help you create positive personal impact.  In this day of email and text messages, a handwritten note sets you apart from the crowd.  Because handwritten notes are becoming so rare, they have an even bigger impact than when old George Bush was writing them years ago.  Invest in some simple note cards and matching envelopes.  Have your name printed at the top of the card, and your business address on the rear flap of the envelope.  Send a note anytime someone helps you or does something nice for you.  You’ll not only create positive personal impact, you’ll be on your way to success.

That’s my take on the power of handwritten thank you notes.  What’s yours?  Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts.  As always, thanks for reading – and commenting.

Bud

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3 Comments

  • Emma Veewow

    Having worked at Ford Motor Company for several years I think it would be wrong to see these great american car businesses go bankrupt, in a year or two when the economy is back on it's feet the whole world, not just America will miss them, and that's not just for their products but the jobs and human impact these great organisations have on the communities they operate in.

  • Ralph Paglia

    No way! This would cause a ripple effect throughout our economy that would be irreversible and massively detrimental to America's ability to compete in a global marketplace.