When was the last time you received a handwritten note from a business associate? It may be too long ago for you to remember. On the other hand, if you have received one lately, you know exactly who sent it and when. Handwritten notes are practically extinct in the business world — and everywhere else. If you are looking for ways to stand in business, be noticed by your colleagues and clients, and set yourself apart from your competition, try putting pen to paper at the slightest excuse.
Few actions are more impressive than handwriting a letter or a note to someone with whom you already do business or would like to. Most people think that writing notes by hand requires extra time and effort. Ironically, it can be quick and painless if you do it frequently and follow these tips:
Have writing supplies close at hand. Keep stationery and stamps in a convenient place in your desk or better yet, on your desktop. When you need to send a note, reach for your stationery, dash off a few lines, address the envelope, add the stamp and mail it.
Keep your message brief. These are notes so you only have to come up with three or four sentences to impress. If you attempt to compose more than a few lines, writer’s block may set in and you will never get past “start.”
Address and stamp the envelope ahead of time. Before you leave for a business meal or event, address an envelope to your host or business colleague. Writing your message will be a breeze when you return.
Use appropriate professional stationery. Both single-sided correspondence cards and fold-over notes with the company name or logo imprinted on them are business-like and will represent you and your organization well. Another choice would be cards or notes with your name imprinted.
Poor penmanship is no excuse. The person who receives your note will appreciate your thoughtfulness and is not likely to grade you on handwriting. If your penmanship does not meet your standards, it is never too late to improve. There are numerous resources at your library and online to teach you to write legibly.
Use any occasion to get noticed with a note. A few of those instances are when…
• You have received a gift
• You were hosted at a meal
• You received a business favor
• You have made a new business connection
• You are replying to an invitation
• You want to follow up after an event
• You are sending condolences
• You would like to offer congratulations
• You need to apologize
Make your message timely. Whether you are sending a note of appreciation, congratulations or condolence, do it as quickly as possible. A thank you should go out within 24 to 48 hours. However, don’t forgo sending a note because you think too much time has elapsed. There is no specific statute of limitations on appreciation.
Successful people pay attention to the details and look for ways to build better business relationships. When you take the time to send handwritten notes, you will stand out from the crowd for all the right reasons. Your next big sale or job promotion may come about as a result of your doing business just a little differently from your competition.
Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based international business expert, speaker, trainer and author of Manners That Sell – Adding the Polish That Builds Profits. Contact her at 912-598-9812 or visit her website at www.mannersthatsell.com