It’s really easy to send email. It’s fairly easy to find and use a telephone number. So, what do you do when you really want to thank someone for something? I say, go back to the good old snail mail and send a Thank-You note. Here are some thoughts:
Get clever about the notes– Don’t just go buy a box of nice matching stationary (unless you’re a stuffy law firm or an actuary). Try something different, something eye-catching. Go buy comic books from the dollar bin and a package of mid-sized rectangle stick-on labels. Try cutting up matching-sized stuff that normally would go into your recylcling bin. Do something to set your thank-you apart from the rest of the mail. (Bonus- if you size it identical to a typical post-card and make it out of card stock (cereal boxes?), you can pay less to mail it (in the US at least).
Be specific– Don’t just send a “thanks” and sign it. Write something more direct, “Fred- It was great talking with you. I’m excited about posting the interview soon.” That helps people remember WHY they’re getting the thank-you.
Market just a little, but not a lot– Use the thank-you card to strengthen your brand, personal or otherwise. With my “Fred” example, maybe I’d add on, “Keep checking in at Lifehack.org for that interview.” Of course, I’ll email Fred when it’s posted, but he’ll get the thank-you card as a visual reinforcement. Bonus: if you make a really attractive note, they might post it at their desk, so consider having your URL or something visible on that side.
Do it quickly– Thank-you notes aren’t all that useful if you wait a few months to send them. Set a time limit of 2 days to get it out. Move this item high up your list of priorities.
Don’t email about the thank-you– It just seems tacky to send email saying, “Did you get that thank-you note I mailed you?” Send it and forget it. Then, if you want more contact, email the person on some other topic. They’ll be prompted to say, “Oh, hey! I got that thank-you note you sent, Chris. That was really clever. I can’t believe you sent me an empty tin can as a note!”
What did this make you think about? Can you open up the hack a little more? What are some of YOUR best thank-you hacks? (By the way, you know who sends a GREAT thank-you note? Patricia Ryan Madson.