FNCE is an amazing time to network with like-minded professionals and brands. No doubt you worked that expo floor and networking sessions like a champ, talking up your value and trading business cards like currency. But now that you’re home, with a stack of cards on your desk and an inbox full of unread messages, it’s tempting to just send a generic thank-you note with everyone you met BCC’ed in the “to” line.
Don’t do it!
Even if you didn’t go to FNCE, there’s something to be said about the lost art of the thank-you note. I mean a true note – handwritten, on pretty stationary, with your signature at the bottom. Yes, email may be faster, but your temptation to be the first to write to prospective clients may be overshadowed by the ones who put in a bit more creativity and stand out.
A note or card sent in the mail can go a long way toward building relationships. This time of year it’s especially important to put that pen to task:
• Write thank-you notes to everyone you met with at FNCE, and who you’d like to collaborate with in the future. Or, if there was someone you wanted to meet with but couldn’t, send a quick note with your business card and offer to connect by phone in the near future.
• Get out your holiday card list. The holidays can be a slow business time, so use that time to nurture relationships. Send cards to everyone you worked with over the past year, or who you’d like to do business with in the coming year. I like to send thoughtful gifts to clients who provided me meaningful income. Gifts don’t have to be expensive, but creativity counts! Last year I gave out Virginia peanuts (since I’m based in Northern Virginia) with a note that said, “I’m nuts about working with you.”
• Note birthdays or life events, such as pregnancies, or just send simple “thinking of you” cards to those you know well and who might appreciate the sentiment.
• Reward referrals. If someone referred work to you, especially if it’s work that impacts your bottom line in a good way, it’s good form to send a comparably-valued thank-you gift. For example, if someone sent work your way that resulted in a paid blog post, you might want to send a note with a $25 Amazon gift card (“you’re ‘Am-A-zon’ for helping me get this gig!”); likewise, if someone helped you snag a year-long contract, you may want to send a nice bottle of champagne or something festive and celebratory.
Heck, even if you have terrible penmanship, it’s really all about the thoughtful gesture.
Elana Natker, MS, RD
NE DPG Chair-Elect