Thank you, thank you very much…

I’m often disappointed when I answer an email question sent from an eager student, and I never receive a thank-you message. Not even a quick “thanks.” It makes me feel like I’ve been used. On the other hand, when I help a student and he or she sends a thoughtful, genuine thank-you note or email, I feel really good about helping that person and would eagerly help again in the future.

Expressing gratitude when appropriate is one of the most important elements of professional etiquette. You should never let a good, helpful deed go un-thanked. This is particularly important for young professionals, who are usually on the receiving end of advice.

There are times when thank you notes are absolutely essential, and there are many, many, many other times when sending a thank you note is an excellent form of networking and will guarantee that you stand out from your peers.

Thank you notes are absolutely essential in these situations:

– Immediately following a job interview or informational interview
– When someone refers you to another person for networking or a job lead
– When someone provides a professional reference for you

Sending a thank you within 24 hours is the best practice in these situations. I’d actually recommend expressing your gratitude the same day — that really shows you’re appreciative. Email is acceptable in most cases, but a real, live, snail mail letter has the strongest impact (except in formal job interviews, when time is of the essence and email is your best option. Feel free to follow up that email with a handwritten note if you’re really excited about the position).

Thank you notes are smart networking when sent to:

– A mentor or other person who offers particularly good advice
– The host of an event you found particularly valuable (note that this category moves up to “essential thank you” status if someone lets you into an event for free or gives you a discount)
– The author of a book or article you enjoyed
– Anyone else who assists you in any way in your career or job search, in any way, for the rest of your life

To extend your self-branding efforts to your thank you notes, think about what kind of notes to use. This small choice can be an extra way to make a memorable impression and keep you top-of-mind with the people in your growing network.

For instance, you may choose to send thank you notes to any alumni of your school using stationery with the school’s logo or mascot. If you’re a woman sending a thank you to a woman mentor, you may choose notecards with famous paintings of women. If you are networking with people in the finance industry, you may choose stationery with pictures of historic banks. When I thank colleagues in the publishing industry, I like to send thank you notes that have a picture of a typewriter on the front. All of these choices show that you have an attention to detail and you are willing to go the extra mile to make a positive impression.

The thing about thank yous of any kind is that they make recipients feel good—and make them want to help you again in the future.

Speaking of thanks, I wish everyone a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving. Thank you for reading my blog and being part of my professional network!

13 Responses to “Thank you, thank you very much…”

  1. Denene

    This is such a great point. I recently wrote about this subject on my blog. I am a big stationery fan! It makes it really fun to buy some nice, professional stationery and send people handwritten “Thank You” notes. This can really help young professionals stand out from the crowd. I’ve heard in the job market that not sending a “Thank You” note after an interview is essentially saying that you’re not interested in the job. I have sent notes expressing thanks and saying that I want to be taken out of the running because after the interview I realized that a job just wasn’t for me. So it does make an impression even if you’re not interested, because you never know if/when you’ll run into those people again.

    Denene

    Reply
  2. Lindsey Pollak

    @ Denene – thanks for your recent posts! What’s your blog? I’ll check it out. – Lindsey

    Reply
  3. Billy

    Linds,

    Great post; I couldn’t agree more.

    There’s a great podcast about how to write a thank-you note at the Manager Tools web site.

    Hope you have a great Thanksgiving.

    Love,
    Uncle Billy

    Reply
  4. Bryan Person, Bryper.com

    Right on here, Lindsey. Handwriting a thank-you note really shows your thoughtfulness and appreciation. Know what else? It distinguishes you from the crowd, too. Everyone else is sending that note by e-mail.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you as well, Lindsey!

    Reply
  5. Russian Federation

    hi lindsey! i agree about thank you notes and have a nice stash of stationary myself.

    however, regarding email – i hesitate to send emails that just say “thanks!” because it seems like i’d clutter the person’s inbox. it seems like i should re-evaluate that though…

    Reply
  6. Mollie C

    Thanks for this post Lindsey! I always eagerly await your blogs, but i don’t get a chance to let you know how much i appreciate them. So thanks for being you, and contributing wonderful blogs to the community!
    Hope your Thanksgiving holiday was wonderful..
    ~Mollie Christianson

    Reply
  7. Lindsey Pollak

    @ Russian Federation – Thanks for the comment! I agree that a quick “thanks” email isn’t always necessary in an informal email chain with someone you know. But when you ask someone for advice or help, a thank you is essential, otherwise the person feels like his or her help hasn’t been appreciated.

    p.s. Glad you keep a stash of stationery — me too!

    Reply
  8. Lindsey Pollak

    @ Mollie – Thank you so much for the nice post! It’s great to hear from you and thanks for reading my blog.

    Lindsey

    Reply
  9. Lindsey Pollak

    @ Uncle Billy – Thanks for the comment – that’s a great podcast. You read so many good blogs — I’d love a list sometime. Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving!

    Love,
    Lindsey

    Reply
  10. Lindsey Pollak

    @ bryan person – Thanks for the comment. I’ll be sure to send you a handwritten thank you note after our podcast call!

    Lindsey

    Reply
  11. Stephanie

    Thank you for writing about the “lost art” of gratitude. It’s so important to remember to thank people that we appreciate. I try to send thank you notes to anyone who brightens my life (friends, family members, authors, companies with exceptional customer service, etc.).

    Reply
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