(Editor’s note: This was one of the top viewed stories of 2014. We’re rerunning it as part of a look back at the articles that captivated our readers the most.)
Someone in your network gave you valuable advice. You want to thank him.
What’s the secret to writing a great professional thank-you note?
Do you send an email, a handwritten note or a little gift? What do you say? We’ve all heard that you shouldn’t push an agenda, ask for a job or try to close a sale.
I am going to answer all those questions, and show you how to get a response like this:
How did my professional thank-you note get that response?
I sent a handwritten note, which is extremely rare these days, and two helpful books. I also followed an acronym I created called G.R.E.A.T (grateful, reference, explanation, action, thanks). I use it when I write all my professional thank-you notes.
Thank-you notes are tricky to write. They are not as straightforward as networking follow-up emails.
Let’s get into it.
I recently spoke with Lea McLeod, the founder of Degrees of Transition, a career website that helps recent grads and mid-careerists navigate the job search. McLeod is super smart, and understands the career space.
I took two pages of notes during our phone call (here’s why). When I got off the phone, my head spun with tons of great ideas. I wanted to do something special for McLeod besides simply sending a thank-you note.
During the call, she mentioned that she wanted to book more speaking gigs. I asked her if she read Michael Port’s book, ” Book Yourself Solid .” She hadn’t. We also talked about ” The Power of Habit ” by Charles Duhigg.
I went on Amazon, bought both books and shipped them to my house so I could send them with my handwritten thank-you note.
Next, I drafted my note in a Word document—I draft every professional thank-you note in Word before I write on the actual card—and wrote the note following the G.R.E.A.T. acronym.
G rateful: Say you appreciate her time.
The fact that someone spent 30-60 minutes of his or her time speaking with you calls for a thank-you note. Time is the most valuable thing a person has.
R eference: What did you learn?
Let the person know what you found most valuable during the conversation.
E xplain: Why did you send the book or gift?
During the conversation, the person you spoke with most likely brought up a problem she’s trying to solve. You might not know how to solve the problem, but there’s a good chance you know a book that can.
If you can’t think of a good book, search Amazon for a relevant title with high ratings.
A ction: Take the next steps.
If you talked about working together or a future call, briefly say what the next steps will be. This should not be the focus of your note.
If the person gave you advice, follow up with him and let him know your results. People love to hear when their advice works. Actually taking action and following his advice will set you apart from all the other people he talks to.
The person will be 10 times more likely to give you additional advice later if he knows you will actually use it.
T hanks: Always end by saying thank you.
I always end with “thanks again” or “thank you for your help,” and sign my name.
Here’s what a great professional thank-you note looks like:
June 7, 2013
It was a pleasure speaking with you on the phone last week. I have talked to a lot of people in our space and haven’t learned as much from them as I did from you in an hour.
I took about a page of notes. Two key takeaways for me were:
- We all know this stuff, but EVERYBODY NEEDS TO BE REMINDED.
- Coaching helps you keep your finger on the pulse of the industry.
After I hung up the phone I said to myself “Lea, gets it! She is going to be very successful.”
I remember you saying that you wanted to get more speaking gigs. I sent you “Book Yourself Solid.” I have not read the book but a lot of the people on my network rave it. I also sent you “The Power of Habit” because I know you will love it.
I hope that you enjoy the books and I really look forward to working with you. I would be more than happy to help you plan and come up with ideas for “office hours.” I would love to contribute and be part of it as much as possible.
Remember, you shouldn’t sell yourself in the thank-you note. If you want to write a great professional thank-you note, follow the G.R.E.A.T formula above.
Have you ever received a horrible thank-you note? Maybe you received a memorable one. Share in the comments.
A version of this article originally appeared on Start Networking Today.