• Do Not Underestimate Value of the Handwritten Thank You Note

    FROM THE Fall 2015 ISSUE

What seems automatic to someone of the Gen X or babyboomer generation seems to be an unnatural response for emerging leaders: hand writing a thankyou note. So many young people today miss the opportunity for relationship building by not doing this simple task.

It sometimes feels like too basic a tip of career advice, so I was surprised and encouraged to see that in Dana Perino’s new book, And the Good News Is…, she included it as one of her top pieces of career advice. (If you are looking for a good read on career advice wrapped in interesting stories, I highly suggest the book.)

It is easy to send a thank-you email, but it does not carry the same weight as a handwritten note. We send and receive hundreds of emails a day—the thank-you email becomes just one more thing in our inboxes. Don’t get me wrong, there are many times a thank-you email is enough, but don’t fail to see the value of the handwritten notes, too.

When you write a thank-you note, you show the person that you truly are appreciative. You put forth the effort to get out a note card, write the message, address the envelope, put a stamp on it and get it in the mail. Think about how nice you thought it was when you received a thank-you note yourself.

So how do you decide what warrants the thank-you email and the handwritten notes? That depends on the individual. I know a woman who never writes the emails—if she is going to say “thank you,” she is going to mail a hand-written note. To find your personal policy, think about the position of the person you are thanking, what it is they have done for you and how thankful you are. When in doubt, I suggest defaulting to the handwritten note; you cannot go wrong.

As I write this column, I am packing for a site inspection in Bucharest, Romania. I have already packed 10 blank thank-you notes. This way I can write them while still in the country and mail them from my hotel. Blank thank-you notes are a standard item in my trip kit that I take on-site to programs. It was how I was trained in this industry and I continue this practice to this day.

While I will hand write and mail a thankyou card, I want to take a moment to thank the editors of MNM+E for running this column series in support of emerging leaders in our industry for the past two years. Their support of the industry is to be applauded, and I thank them for the opportunity.

Julie Ann Schmidt, CMP, CMM, is the founder of the Global Emerging Leaders Community (GEL). GEL is a one-stop shop for all things in the industry geared towards emerging leaders. The organization is a portal that gives emerging leaders with zero to seven years in the industry help to embark on their career path. 

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