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  • Writer's pictureHarshal

Beyond Courtesy: My Experience With 366 Thank-You Notes In 2023

Plain Text That Strengthens Personal And Professional Relationships

In 2023, I sent 366 thank-you notes. That’s more than one note each day. Whether a professional encounter or a casual meeting, I always feel the impact of a well-crafted thank-you note.

"Gratitude: simple for the giver, priceless for the recipient."

I started writing thank-you notes six years ago. Here is what I learned.

In this post, you will find:

  • Examples of thank-you notes.

  • When to send or not send one.

  • Tips for writing thank-you notes.

  • Ways to save time while writing your notes.

  • How thank-you notes can change your personality.

I spent 2 hours and 21 minutes writing this post.

Thank-you envelope with pen, when you go above and beyond with a snail mail.
Thank-you envelope with pen, when you go above and beyond with a snail mail.

Thumanil uses an Image by Freepik (Midjourney outputs were not useful).

Some related posts:

Understanding Thank-You Notes And Their Importance

A thank-you note is a message you send within one or two days after meeting someone, either in person or virtually. It’s to thank them for their time and the value they added to you.

For example, my mentor would ask me to summarize what I learned from each call. I found this approach helpful.

Why write a thank-you note?

A thank-you note mentions the positive parts of your chat. So, it reinforces the recipient’s positive feelings towards you. You took the time after a chat to remember the person again. This shows your genuine interest in the relationship. The recipient feels appreciated by the note, especially when you mention specific details from your conversation. Although memories of a verbal chat may fade, a written note, like an email, serves as a lasting reminder of the relationship's significance.

Occasions To Send Thank-You Notes

Here are some examples of situations and thank-you notes:

  • A WhatsApp message to a friend after a weekend lunch party.

  • A LinkedIn message to someone you met at a meetup.

  • An email to an expert who answered your questions on Zoom.

  • A Slack message to a colleague you don't often work with. You met them to learn from their experience or discuss collaboration.

  • A text to a friend or acquaintance you met for coffee.

  • An email to a customer you met in person or on Zoom. You might also include meeting minutes here.

  • An email or LinkedIn message to an interviewer after they interviewed you for a role in their team.

9 Real-Life Examples Of Thank-You Notes

I sent 366 thank-you notes in 2023. Maybe you are on board with this idea. But, you struggle with finding the right words to express your gratitude. I looked back at my notes from 2017 to 2023 to share nine real-life examples. You will also realize none are perfect.

Distribution of the 366 thank-you notes written over 12 months in 2023.
Distribution of the 366 thank-you notes written over 12 months in 2023.

Professional examples

I met a professional at a meetup and had a Zoom follow-up chat a week later. Here is the email after the follow-up chat:

A pleasure to chat yesterday. Thank you for sharing about your career moves and current interviewing experience. Next time I go to a bakery, I'm gonna look out for [baked good]! Thank you for your thoughts on [product] and ATS challenges. I got a lot of perspective on PM, career growth, and on my product. [Person] reached out about [event], thank you for the connection.

Email after a Zoom chat with a former colleague:

Hi [Person], It was great to chat today and see your product in action. Apologies for the abrupt ending on my side. I will time things better next time. Interesting film. Thank you for sharing! I checked out its trailer and was reading its page on the festival and IMDb pages. Thank you for sharing the ppt. I will also look up about Google slides templates. I liked the outline and content of your ppt focused on the problem and customers first then the solution.

I am part of a writers’ online community. A community member took the time to help me. Here is the Slack message I sent after a Zoom chat:

great to chat today. I learnt a lot. I made notes and cleaned them up based on my learning from our chat. want to share those here with you. i didn't realize the [principle] has a book on it! i'm trying to get that now 🙂 thanks for pointing me to it

LinkedIn message after a call with someone I met for the first time on lunchclub:

Great to chat on Friday, [Person]. I got to learn a lot from your podcasting and freelancing expertise. Loved getting a hands-on demo of [software] and other productivity tools in your arsenal.

LinkedIn message to the host of an entrepreneurship meetup:

Thanks for organizing the meet today, [Person]. Great to meet you and hear about your startup and reads. Inspiring to see you read and soak up so many books. Interesting balanced way you've found for SEO+marketing and sales outreach to ecomm biz!

LinkedIn message to a business school senior after they met for an informational chat:

It was great talking to you tonight, [Person]! Glad to hear about some of your side-projects at [company] and [degree]. I now have some actionable steps for getting theoretical and practical knowledge of ML/analytics! I found some course on R in the Statistics dept. Might look at that schedule, and other alternatives. Hope to see you around on campus sometime.

Social examples

Specific, unstructured WhatsApp message to a parent I met at a kid's birthday party:

hey [Person], Harshal here. wanted to message on WhatsApp.great to chat today with you and [Person] at [kid]'s bday party. I found the story of you meeting [Person] pretty interesting about recognizing your  accent 😅 (if I understood it right?) thanks for your tip on the importance of sales for consulting and nice coincidence that you and [Person] know [Person]. see you and [Person] next week at the [place].

Generic WhatsApp message to a couple with whom we shared lunch at the restaurant:

Hey guys good to have lunch today it's always fun to share food with you. Love the energy and conversations you bring to the table. Let us know if you come across the next place you want to try together.

WhatsApp message to a couple whom my spouse and I met for a restaurant brunch:

Great to chat yesterday over brunch with [couple names] 😊 your [event] adventure was fascinating. Nice to hear about things you've been up to, including [events]

Top 6 Tips For Your Thank-You Notes

Brief, timely, specific thank-you note. Remember to send it, decide the channel, and use a structure.
Brief, timely, specific thank-you note. Remember to send it, decide the channel, and use a structure.

Here are the top 6 tips I learned about writing thank-you notes:

  • Timing: Send the thank-you note between 8 and 24 hours after a call or meeting. The timing within 24 hours keeps the interaction fresh in mind to reinforce your recipient’s positive feelings from meeting you. The timing after 8 hours helps it seem authentic, not perfunctory.

  • Specific: Mention a help you received or a topic that you talked about. Generic phrases like "thank you for your time" are almost meaningless. It is more impactful to say "I liked hearing about X" or "I will act on your advice about Y".

  • Brief: Keep your message short and sweet. Stick to 2-5 sentences. You don’t want to overwhelm your recipient with a long message. I tried using ChatGPT to write thank-you notes with my short-form conversation notes. But ChatGPT’s output was a five-paragraph long formal letter. I didn’t use it and neither should you use a long, expository, and formal message. A long expository message will make it seem you are using AI to auto-generate it.

  • Structure: Use the Rule of 3 to think of the amount of information you want to convey. Structure your email to mention three things you liked or found useful.

“I liked hearing about X, Y, and Z.”

  • Medium: Choose the right medium (channel or platform) for your message. When messaging someone after a social gathering, a phone or WhatsApp message might be more appropriate than LinkedIn. When messaging an event speaker or a meetup acquaintance, LinkedIn could be more suitable. If you've communicated through a particular channel in the past, stick with that. For example, continue an existing email thread.

  • Reminder: Good intentions are important, but you also need processes to help you stay on track. Use tools like a calendar, smart home assistant reminders, Zapier, or a CRM system. These tools can remind you a few hours after each call. For example, I used to set a 15-minute task in my Google Calendar 24 hours after a scheduled call to send a thank-you note. Now, I use automation in my CRM to remind me.

15-minute tasks in my 2017 calendar to send thank-you notes.
15-minute tasks in my 2017 calendar to send thank-you notes.

Quote from William Arthur Ward (Source: HappierHuman):

"Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgiving, turn routine jobs into joy and change ordinary opportunities into blessings."

Going Above And Beyond With Extraordinary Thank-You Gestures

Here are two examples of going above and beyond:

  • A Product Manager (PM) aspirant I mentored once gave me a $50 Starbucks card. It was a kind gesture that made a lasting impression on me.

  • Julie Brown, in her book This Shit Works, recommends sending a handwritten thank-you card through snail (post office) mail. She suggests saying (this is not verbatim), "I'd like to post a small token of my appreciation for your time and help. Could I have your address?" According to Julie, gifts, gift cards, or flowers aren't necessary. People often value a handwritten card highly and keep it close by.

4 Tips To Simplify Thank-You Note Writing

Note keywords, utilize AI, schedule send, or take a minimalist approach to thank-you notes.
Note keywords, utilize AI, schedule send, or take a minimalist approach to thank-you notes.

You might think writing thank-you notes is a lot of work. Here are some tips to make it easier:

  • Note Keywords: After a call, you might forget what you talked about. Or, after many conversations, it can be hard to remember who said what. To help remember, quickly jot down some key points right after your conversation. You don't need to write a lot. Even a few keywords can help. Doing this soon after your call or meeting makes it easier to remember the details later, reducing the effort needed to recall them.

  • Schedule Send: We above talked about the scenario where you don’t have much time after your call. If you get time, write your thank-you message right after the conversation. You can schedule it to be delivered later. This ensures your recipient receives your message at a good time, without the need for you to remember to send it at a specific time.

  • Utilize AI: I told you in the previous section to stay away from chatgpt’s long-form output. Now, let’s talk about the other side. If you have detailed, but unstructured notes from the conversation, you can paste them into ChatGPT. Let it generate a thank-you note for you. Then, pick one or two sentences from its lengthy output. Alternatively, ask ChatGPT to structure your notes. Read this structured output to write your note.

  • Minimalist Approach: I suggested you write a specific note within 24hrs. But, a vague and delayed note is better than none. What if you forget specific details of the conversation? Send a generic one-liner. What if you forget to send a thank-you note within 24 hours? A note sent whenever you remember is better than not acknowledging the interaction.

Occasions When You Don’t Need To Send Thank-You Notes

There are times when sending a thank-you note isn't necessary. Here are a few examples:

  • No need to send thank-you notes for regular work meetings like daily standups, sprint planning, weekly syncs, or one-on-ones with colleagues. But, it's a good idea to send thank-you notes when you meet someone from a different team you rarely see.

  • No need to send thank-you notes to family members after daily conversations. But, it's a nice gesture to send notes to family members you haven't talked to for weeks or months.

Personal Growth Through Thank-You Notes

"That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

My version is:

“Your small word of gratitude, a significant leap of joy for another."

I found that making a habit of writing thank-you notes changed my behavior and feelings.

  • I now enter conversations more curious about the other person, focusing less on sharing my own stories.

  • I pay more attention to the details of someone's story instead of just the broad outline. This helps me remember something specific to mention later.

  • I'm more aware of finding the best way to communicate with someone. For example, I ask, “What’s the best way to stay in touch with you?” when I meet someone interesting at a meetup.

  • It's become easier for me to compliment someone or express my gratitude for their help.

Whom did you meet this week? Which of the above examples can you use to write a thank-you note to them?



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