Sometimes even basic stuff like saying ‘Thank you’ can be overlooked.
You may notice that it’s become a habit of yours to say ‘yes, thanks’ at the end of a conversation or ‘thanks’ or ‘many thanks’ in an email and people really won’t notice it much (at least that is what you think). Sometimes people say thank you to try to close a negotiation or to make a point such as ‘yes that will be all… thank you!’ Or ‘this is how we wish to see the clause formulated, thank you‘, which is borderline forceful and in some contexts impolite or pushy. We are not referring to this awkward way of expressing gratitude but rather really meaning it when you call someone to thank them for helping you or providing you with a contact.
This is imperative in Networking and forgetting to thank people will get you well, nowhere with this peer in the future which is counterproductive.
In order to become a Master at Networking you have to ‘walk the talk’. After someone has connected you to a target and you had a conversation with this person, close the loop with the person that helped you. This will encourage future support since they are informed of the successful connection, they will appreciate that the connection was made and they will recognize your courtesy of getting back to them. This little step is extremely easy to forget.
If someone has done you a favor, during your networking initiatives, you must be sure to send them a thank-you note or email that same night or by the very next day, without fail. Any thank-you note that arrives a week late is not going to help you.
Format and length wise it just needs to be two or three sentences. Consider: ‘I wanted to thank you for talking with me yesterday. It was very helpful to me. I appreciated your talking the time out of your busy schedule, to do this’. Close off with ‘Best wishes to you’.
If you want even more impact, print the thank you note on nice paper, make sure it’s nicely formatted, sign it and send it through Snail mail (Post office) since no one ever sends these by mail these days. This is quite unique and will make you stand out!
Rule of thumb: This kind of note goes to everyone who has helped you, or who you met.
There are 3 fundamental reasons for doing this:
1) Courtesy. Common sense, ‘in your face courtesy’ for acknowledging your gratitude towards someone that has taken time out of their schedule to help you.
Think about this: The time involved for making a few calls on your behalf is real time spent. Really now, this is time that this person could spend on promoting their own business instead of yours. The time they talk about you, promote you and endorse you is indeed real and genuine. Therefore it only makes sense to formally acknowledge their help.
2) You provide them some form of follow-up and closure. In some cases they may not necessarily remember that they helped you, say 2 days ago but then in a few days or weeks that follow they will remember that you never called them back for some form of update. They will probably wonder: ‘Did Paul speak to John after all? Was that lead worthwhile for Paul? Was I able to help? Did Paul get what he wanted?’
Instead no update can also generate these thoughts: ‘Hum… Paul never got back to me to tell me if he spoke to John?’ Or, ‘I wonder if he forgot to let me know the outcome of that lead I gave him?‘
Worse case: ‘Nice guy that Paul; he never called me back to tell me what happened.‘
Even worse: ‘You’d think Paul would let me know what happened…how inconsiderate!’ This may seem trivial but it’s best to avoid all these potential negative thoughts about you by simply following up by calling them or emailing them a thank you note. On the flip side, if you don’t call or send what do you think will be rolling in that person’s mind the next time you call for a lead?
3) Tip: The thank you note that was written through an email can be forwarded and used in the future. If someone helped you and you were diligent to send them an email of thanks, one suggestion is to use that email string in the next few months with the intent of getting more names. The person may not really remember the thank you email that you used but if they read down the email discussion they will notice that you had in fact sent a thank you note and they may think ‘you know what… this guy was courteous enough to send me a thank you note and yes I will help him again’. This is called loading up your arsenal of courtesy tips and tools in your favor. I have forwarded previously sent thank you notes and this has helped me.
Letting people know how much you appreciate what they did for you will create a continuous process of collaboration.
Remember that your appreciation can be sent in a variety of ways.
Send them a newspaper clipping, an article, details of a seminar, meeting or social event. I once sent to a CEO of a global mobile phone company a Harvard Business Review (HBR) article that I was using in one of my MBA classes since the study had similar attributes to what the executive was facing. I thanked him by printing a fresh copy of the HBR article and I called the article ‘some reading materials for your flight back home’.
Lastly, remember you are an integral part of other people’s networks too so:
• Keep your ears open for opportunities for others
• Provide a reference and recommend people
• Promote some of your peers’ achievements
• Open doors for your peers.
As you can see very little effort is required to create a feeling of concern and gratitude. Any investment in properly thanking people will bring dividends for the future.