The Lost Art of Handwritten Notes

By Ben Hanback, an EO member and president of The Hanback Group

When was the last time you received a handwritten “thank you” note in the mail from a friend or client? I bet you can tell me exactly when you received it, who it was from and why they sent it. Do you know why? In today’s world of e-mails, voicemails, text messages and instant messages, the path of least resistance is to thank someone electronically, or not thank them at all.

The truth is handwritten notes are a  lost art. In today’s busy world, we have forgotten how much a nice note means to someone. I’ve interviewed hundreds of people in my career, and it’s amazing how few people take the time to write me a “thank you” note for my time. Most interview preparation books will tell you the last rule of interviewing is to make sure you send one. Not only does this speak to the person’s character, but it leaves the door open for future job opportunities.

As an entrepreneur, I’ve always made it a habit at the end of my business week to drop a few “thank you” notes in the mail, warranted or not. It’s amazing how much of an impact this can have on people. Recently, I sent a note to a large prospect. Two weeks later, the client asked if I could help her with a project. It turns out my letter jogged her memory about my company and services. On another occasion, I sent a note to a client who had lost her job, along with a letter of recommendation. When that client landed at a new company, I was the first vendor she brought in for business.

Because I took a few minutes to write these letters, I was able to generate interest in, and create long-lasting relationships for, my business. Sometimes in life, we can get so busy running our businesses that we forget to do the little things. In my experience, it’s these little things that provide the best return on investment.

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