Too “Yesterday” to say Thank You?
It’s reasonable to think that as humans, we can only maintain close connection with a limited number of people in our lives and that we tend to prioritize family and close friends, along with some business colleagues and a few key networking contacts.
And that despite telling the Linkedin world that we have 500+ Connections and well, isn’t that impressive, in reality we don’t have the bandwidth to truly know and keep in touch with all these people. We tend to reach out when we need something, right? Personally I’ve been guilty over the years of In-Mailing someone I haven’t spoken to in years, asking them to connect me with someone of interest and value to me or one of my clients, and I admit to feeling bad that I haven’t done a better job of staying in touch.
So how do I coach my clients on maintaining connections in the right way?
Aside from the obvious prioritizing family and friends, choose 10 – 15 people in your life and call them your Inner Circle. And then try to keep them there. (You can always add new ones as your career and life progresses, and sometimes even drop someone off your list if your paths aren’t crossing anymore.)
During the pandemic a show called “Some Good News” took off. Each week, Jack Ryan, I mean John Krasinski, made us feel better, more positive and grateful. His stories spread good karma, gave us warm fuzzies and overall made us feel grateful. And who doesn’t love those feelings?
Which brings me to thank you notes. “Ok Boomer”. I hear some of you say? Not so fast younger generations. Not so fast.
In 22 years I have worked with over 700 clients in workshop, lecture and 1:1 settings, and I have tried to coach every single one of them on how to build and maintain connections during a transition. Whether it be a college application, a career or job search, or while managing their career in general, transitions require connections because connections offer valuable help at a time of need.
But what happens when you’ve asked for their time, or their expertise or their networking contacts? Do you just shoot them a text, or an emoji and leave it at that?
I suggest no. Do more. Be better. Bring some gratitude and warm fuzzies to the person whose day you’ve just disrupted with an informational meeting, or a “pick your brain” session, or a phone call on the weekend when they’re sitting in their garden relaxing. Follow up with the John Krasinski strategy and make their day by sending a thank you note. Yup. A good old fashioned thank you note. I can guarantee it’ll stop them in their tracks in a positive way. It’ll make them feel valued and it’ll sure make you stand out, and not in a weird way. And if you feel like ordering some thank you cards online, handwriting a little note and buying some stamps is too much hassle, remember how quickly your contact got back to you on text and was willing to give up their time for you.
Thank you notes don’t have to be only for Grandma.
If you get into the habit early on in your career, you’ll get used to it and in a small way you will be doing your part to change the world. And isn’t that what your generation wants to do?