Writing business thank-you notes isn’t rocket science

You shouldn’t do nice things just for a ‘thank you’ — but it sure is nice to be thanked, isn’t it? When cousin Sally mails you a note thanking you for that tasty fruitcake you sent her for Christmas, you can’t help but feel all warm and fuzzy!

business thank you note

The same goes for business thank-you notes; in fact, I find myself feeling even warmer and fuzzier when I receive a handwritten business thank-you note. That’s because I don’t receive many of them. I receive nice phone calls, emails and texts, but very few handwritten notes in the mail.

These days, business thank-you notes are so unexpected that they are almost a novelty, which makes them even more special and more appreciated. You can write them to clients, prospects, employees, vendors … you can have a particular reason or no reason at all other than to say, “Thanks for being you.”

Sending thank-you notes is actually proper etiquette. Emily Post says,

It’s always correct to send handwritten thank-you’s, and people always appreciate them.  Handwritten notes are warmer and more personal than a phone call or email, and only second best to thanking someone in person.

So why don’t people do them?

I hear people say, “I don’t know what to write in it!” It’s amazing how a 4X5 piece of paper can intimidate them so much, but it does. These same people can type a 300-word text in a matter of minutes on a tiny phone, but they need an instruction manual to figure out what to do with a blank piece of paper.

A thank-you note is so easy to write (easy for Miss Writer to say, huh?). But seriously, it follows a very basic formula:

  1. Purpose of the note. “Thank you for meeting me for lunch.”  
  2. Reference to conversation. “It was nice to spend time with a true Blackhawks fan like myself.”
  3. Flattery. “I am so impressed by what you’ve accomplished at your company in such a short amount of time.”
  4. A subtle call to action. “If I can be of help to your during this time of transition, please call me anytime.”
  5. Personal closing. “To your continued success. Bridget”

And here’s a tip: If you feel intimidated by a blank piece of paper, then write it first on your computer or as a draft text. Then, simply copy what you wrote onto the paper.

The other excuse I hear is “I don’t have time”. But, if you follow the simple formula, it shouldn’t take you too long. (And buy small cards so you don’t have to write too much!) The main thing is to have a box of cards (monogrammed cards are nice, but your standard box of thank-you notes from the grocery store would work too) on hand at all times. Start a routine of some sort – Every Friday at 1, write 2 notes, for example.

Once you start sending out handwritten thank-you notes on a regular basis, you will see how good they make you feel — and how good you make others feel. Give them a try!

Photo credit: peteoshea

Bridget Ingebrigtsen

Bridget Ingebrigtsen owns Write On Command, a company that provides writing and editing services to businesses and not-for-profits. Bridget describes her six-year stint as Anchor Advisors' writer/editor as being "mutually beneficial" -- she helps Anchor Advisors keep their written projects on track and Anchor Advisors helps her keep her business on track. When she's not running her business, Bridget is running after her four children, two dogs and the latest in entertainment news. Connect with Bridget on Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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