I recently spent 20 minutes giving a reference for someone who used work for me. The potential employer told me that the qualities I stressed were exactly what they were looking for and that the applicant sounded perfect for the job. So I was surprised when I didn’t hear that she had gotten the job. I was even more surprised when I found out she did get the job — from a LinkedIn update.
I hear so many stories about how people went out of their way to help people get jobs, land contracts, and make crucial introductions only to get no acknowledgment, yet alone something more substantial than “oh, thanks”.
Relationships are the currency in business networking
Farmville has virtual coins, the US government has dollars, and in the business community your value is based on the quality of relationships you have. And the biggest way to blow it is to not thank someone when they’ve helped you out. The more effort and help they put in, the more thoughtful the thank you should be.
You are not as good at thanking as you think you are
Everyone thinks they have a sense of humor, have above average intelligence, and have the cutest babies (or pets). They also think they are unfailingly polite and thank people. I’m sure you are much smarter than the average bear (you’re reading this blog after all!) so you’re smart enough to be open to the idea that you could thank people in your network better than you are now.
7 better ways to thank someone
- Immediately follow up and don’t leave them guessing. Whether or not the contact someone suggested resulted in a job, a contract, or a marriage proposal, let them know that you did indeed contact the person, what was the result (keep it positive), and that you appreciate it. That way, when they see the contact they won’t have to wonder if you flaked.
- Send it in writing to their boss. People are so quick to complain about someone yet rarely take the time to write a well thought-out compliment about an employee. Because it also makes the manager feel better, they will remember it even more. I have sent some that were contributing factors in an end of year bonus and raise.
- Go Old School — write it on paper. If you are writing to anyone outside your company, take the few additional minutes to write it on paper and send it in the mail. Because we do this so seldom, it has a much bigger impact than email or a voice mail.
- Write an unsolicited LinkedIn recommendation for them. And here’s how to do that.
- Ask if there is someone specifically on your LinkedIn contacts they’d like to meet. The best way to pay back a valuable introduction is to offer one.
- Send a cup of coffee. You can send a double latte or the song “You Gotta Friend” via gift cards. You can send the latest issue of Fast Company. The key is to send something tangible that matches their interests and shows you paid attention to what they said.
- “Like”, comment, tweet, or share the advice. OK, little closer to home. Some people will email me at Mojo40 to say how much they appreciate the advice. Always nice to hear kind words. But a more impactful way to say thank you any time you get valuable free online advice is help spread the word. Let others know by clicking the Like button, the Share button, emailing the link to a friend, or posting the compliment in the Comments section.
- Think about who you should have thanked in the past and select one of the above ways to do it now. According to Miss Manners, the only time it’s too late to thank someone is when one of you is dead.
- In the future, thank people immediately. The sooner you do, the better they remember it.
- Go to your favorite free online resource, hit the “contact us” button and send a digital thank you that would make for a great “raving readers” page. Every site needs testimonies, and this is one way to help them for the free advice.
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, Joseph O Hughes
What’s the best way you’ve been thanked? What thanks did you give that had the biggest impact? Spill in the comments section.
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