I’ve recently been reminded, several times, just how important hand written thank you notes can be in the business world. As a rule when I work with sales professionals as a coach, business leaders as a consultant or when I meet someone new and start to build a relationship I send them a short hand written thank you card. Nothing extravagant. A brief  note thanking them for something specific (usually their time). I’ve made it a habit—I carry a small bag in my brief case with note cards, envelopes, business cards and a pen. I don’t take for granted the positive affect of these gestures but I do sometimes wonder how they are received.

Last week I got a thank card from the Chairmen of the Board of one of my clients. A note saying “Thank you” for my efforts and stating his support. Two sentences—big impact!

One of the reasons hand written thank you notes can be so effective is the law of reciprocity. There are three key elements to the law of reciprocity which a hand written note usually contains:

1. They’re Signifcant

Yes in a digital, fast paced, get it done now world a hand written note makes a statement. A statement that the sender took the time to put their thoughts on paper and mail a card.

2. They’re are Unexpected

Again in today’s society getting a card, written and addressed by hand (outside of Christmas time), is typically an unexpected occurrence. Think about the last time you got your mail and found, among all the other “stuff”, something hand written and addressed to you. What got opened first?

3. They’re Personal

When done correctly a hand written thank you note is very personal. By done correctly I mean you actually take the time to compose your thoughts and say “Thank you” to someone in a meaningful and specific way.

So who could you write a hand written thank you card to today?