Look for excuses to write thank-you notes.
Besides the obvious fact that it’s a good and nice thing to thank somebody who helps you in some way, it’s selfishly in your best interest to do so.
In a world where everyone is trying hard to seem like they “did it all on their own, “thank you” goes a long way in helping you stand out. I’m convinced they’re one of the most underrated career and life investments you can make. For the small cost of a pen, some stationary, and stamps, you’ve got a powerful tool for getting ahead. More importantly, it’s a scalable, lasting tool.
I’ve personally saved every thank-you note I’ve ever received. They all but guarantee I will never forget the particular person who sent them to me and that it’s near impossible for me to have bad thoughts about them. I can remember every one I’ve gotten and if I’m ever feeling annoyed by the particular person, I can’t help but think of their note.
Maybe I’m just a softie for this kind of thing but experience tells me that I’m probably cold compared to how others respond to these. People will feel indebted to think well about you because you allowed them to help you and recognized their help.
Lemony Snicket, the author of A Series of Unfortunate Events, had this to say about thank-you notes:
I recommend learning how to write a very good thank-you note. A child who can write a nice thank-you note can turn into a cocaine dealer five years later and be remembered as the child who wrote nice thank-you notes.
And it’s true. Years later, the people you thanked will come back into your life in unpredictable ways. When Isaac launched Praxis, he says:
I turned to friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and acquaintances of acquaintances. I cashed in every ounce of social capital I had and got some lines of credit. I asked for introductions, advice, lists of leads, design help, tech help, legal help, strategic help, research help, product development help, and most of all help spreading the word. I traded some phantom stock and paid some cash, but I mostly traded on goodwill and positive social capital I’d built from helping lots of people, being kind and open appreciative, and having a reputation as a guy who helps lots of people.
In way, he launched a multi-million dollar startup off the back of thank-you notes. And having received notes from him, I can see how he was able to do it.
Something like this short note goes a long way in cultivating good will towards you and your work. You might have no particular plans to cash in on that good will but one day it might come back to help you in ways you couldn’t possibly predict. It might come in the form of an introduction or a job offer or a date or an investment, but it will come, and you’ll be glad you spent a couple dollars on some paper and pen and wrote up a short thank-you note.