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The Power of a Handwritten Note

When was the last time you received a hand written thank you note? I just received one from the students of a class I was teaching. It meant a lot to me and I still have it in my kitchen.  This is one way can we humanize an increasingly digital world.  In a previous post, I mentioned a story about a young woman who, on her first day of work, noticed her handwritten note on the desk of her new boss.

Justin R. Levy, a social media marketer recently sent a handwritten card to all the sponsors of a recent conference. Then he sent notes to all his clients and several other people who had helped his company in the past few months. He feels one of the keys to this is to making each note personal.

President Obama reads 10 letters a day from US citizens and personally hand writes 15 responses a week.

Chris Brogan, co-author of a new book, Trust Agents, wrote this in his most recent newsletter. “In a recent blog post of mine, Simple Touchpoints of Loyalty, more than a dozen of the comments that I got back pointed out that paper note cards sent through the mail are a huge way to show that you care. I picked some up and started sending cards at once, and the results were immediate. I can’t recommend this enough for you to use as a personal touch point to your clients, colleagues, online friends and more.” He suggests blank note cards that can be personalize with a picture or something that would be of interest to your contact.

I recently this read about a story from a former Dell employee. “My first assignment at Dell marketing was to write (of all things) an anniversary card celebrating a Dell customer’s first year as part of the ‘family’.  This left such an impression on him that, to this day, he still practices the art of the hand written thank you.

So far, I have written 2 notes (my handwriting is so terrible, I hope they can read it); one to someone I’ve known a long time who is helping me make new contacts and the other to someone who has helped me with this blog. Please share your stories about personalizing your connections. We will all benefit.”what-was-i-thinking-when-i-put-that-on-my-resume”/


8 Responses
  • Rich Lewy
    August 26, 2009

    It’s sad that this has become newsworthy. I’m sending handwritten notes to everybody with whom I interview.

    Coming from the fundraising world, I can think of no better way to remain personal, the key to good donor stewardship.

  • Deborah
    August 26, 2009

    Hi Rich, I guess you’re right about the fact that this likely shouldn’t be ‘newsworthy’ but on the other hand, I think progress, in general, is a good thing. We just need to keep reminding ourselves of the positive benefits of old fashioned values and ideas – when they are worth resurfacing. Good stewardship is built on the personal, i”l bet you are successful at what you do.

  • Lori LaBeau
    August 28, 2009

    I think handwritten notes are critical to getting that final impression on a hiring manager! I did this on a job interview for a position that candidly (wasn’t the right fit). Both the hiring manager and I agreed this point during the interview, but I firmly believe my handwritten thank you was the catalyst to getting another interview in the company for a perfect job! I was told by one of interviewer that my resume had been hand delivered to their group by the original hiring manager with a note about how impressive I was! I have a second round of interviews today and hope for a firm job offer! I think the handwritten notes were what put me over the top!

  • Michele Heine
    August 28, 2009

    Those of us who are seeking a job have been recommended to send handwritten thank you notes after people have interviewed us, met with us or otherwise helped us out. I think your blog explains why it’s important. I know I always appreciate a hand written thank you.


  • Deborah
    August 28, 2009

    Michele, good to hear from you and thanks for your comment.

  • Deborah
    August 28, 2009

    Lori, congratulations. I hope the job works out for you and thank you so much for your comments. It is clear you have made a great impression on them. For those who may be skeptical, here’s the proof that a little extra time and attention can really pay off. You go!

  • SerahRose
    September 5, 2009

    Like Rich, I find it amazing that this is news-worthy. My mom taught me to write my Thank You notes and I’ve continued the practice into adulthood. It’s not about “connections” and “stewardship,” it’s about being a decent, kind person who values humankind. Taking the time to say, or write, thank you is one way to do that.

  • Deborah
    September 7, 2009

    SerahRose, thank you for your comment. I am grateful that my mother taught me to write a thank you note and with my own children, they had 2 days to write a note after receiving a gift. I am happy to report that my relatives and friends still comment on how impressed they are that my grown children write notes.
    This post is more about using thank you notes for business purposes. My mother did not work in business and so I did not even think to use thank you notes except after a job interview. I am enjoying making hand made thank you notes and sending them out to business contacts. I am pleased with what I’ve heard back so far.

    I’m glad that manners are still in vogue as evidenced by you and Rich. Let’s keep encourgaing each other to continued kindness and humankind values. These are table stakes as far as I’m concerned. Best.

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