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Why Hand Written Thank You Notes Still Matter

photo(13)This time of year, at the end of the year, we all work on creating our goals for the coming year, shovel out our offices and hope that we can start with a fresh, clean slate, right? Right.

But also at this time of year, I try to take a little time to reflect on the past year.  One way I do that is taking a stroll past my wall of fame.  This is a wall in my home office where I plaster a bunch of bits from the year – lanyards from meetings I attended, cool swag from friends’ businesses, and my most highly prized and coveted items on the wall: the thank you notes.

Those who know me well know how much I’m a sucker for a hand written thank you note.  I wrote about this as the FIRST thing a newly licensed pharmacist needs to do in 46 Doses.  Also, I just read this article recently on how the power of thank you notes actually built a business.  I actually think they are more important now than they’ve ever been, for several reasons.

First, because we live in a digital world.  Email is worthless.  Totally disposable.  And, lacks any type of significant staying power.  While I suppose a digital thank you is fine for an immediate hit, it does not endure.  Same deal on texts – all of them can be wiped away with the touch of a button.

On the other hand, hand written thank you notes DO endure.  How many of you keep that shoebox of the hand written notes you either received from pen pals or the notes you passed in high school?  I do. (And if you didn’t grow up in the era of hand written notes from across the room in school, I honestly do weep for you.)

Second, the thank you note is actually a long term relationship builder, as demonstrated by the Forbes article above.  You become stickier in the person who received your note’s mind.  Where else are you going to be sticky in someone’s mind for under a buck in this attention deficit age?  Exactly. Advertisers pay millions of dollars to get that type of attention from people.  You did it for less than 50 cents. Rock on.

Third, you get to express in writing that something someone else did MATTERED to you.  How often do we get feedback in writing that we’re doing a good job?  Maybe, if you’re lucky, annually on your performance review.  A hand written thank you expresses this gratitude at any time during the year – not just once a year on the job.  Think about it – how many people affect your life OUTSIDE your job?  Are you telling them that they are having a positive impact on your life? There are 4 different thank you notes just in the picture in this post, and only 1 of them came from someone from my day job.  The other 3 were from projects and people outside of the work that I get paid to do.

Fourth – and most important to me, thank you notes are part of my office decor.  While I’m joking about this (to some extent), leaders have their thank you notes posted in a place of honor in their offices.  You should too.

There you have it.  If you’re not in the habit of writing hand written thank you notes, start.  Here’s a nice little post from Hallmark, of all places on the art of writing a thank you.  And right after this post, I’m heading to my office to drop some postcards in the mail on people who influenced me the most in 2014–just across from my wall of fame.

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