What if there was a way to convey to potential clients and partners that your brand means quality, attention to detail, service, and more? There is! The secret lies in using handwritten notes to connect with the people you want to get to know—and you want them to get to know you and your brand.
As communication becomes less personal and more generalized with social media tools that supposedly keep us “connected,” one good, old-fashioned, personalized note can establish more rapport between two people in an instant than a thousand tweets to a thousand followers.
“In an increasingly informal digital world, continuing to pull out pen and paper is a way to distinguish yourself,” writes Dan Post Senning at the Post Etiquette Institute in this article.
Sending a handwritten note conveys a personal touch, attention to detail, and putting in a little extra effort—aren’t those all qualities we want in the people we work with, or whose services we pay for?
If you’re like me, you treasure cards and notes you receive in mail, right? I’ve even been known to display them on my desk for weeks after receiving them. There are few easier (or more inexpensive) ways to literally stay in someone’s line of sight and top of mind.
Identify your recipients
Here’s how to get started with your handwritten note campaign. It’s a pretty simple process:
Step 1: Identify 5 to 10 clients you would like to work with or industry leaders you’d like to partner with.
Step 2: Set up Google alerts for their names, and follow them on their most active social channels. If your target recipients are in your local area, peruse the “happenings” column in the local business paper. Every business paper has one—that section devoted to promotions, new hires, board appointments, etc.
You may also want to set alerts and watch for news of your existing and past clients!
Step 3: When someone you’re following has a newsworthy event (a promotion, a new product launch, some personal or business milestone) send them a note of congratulations.
While you’re waiting for something to happen (it probably won’t take long!), be sure to stock up on a few essential supplies.
Supplies you’ll need
You’ll need a few supplies to send your handwritten note.
I could wax on for hours about stationery and note cards. As a girl I loved sending notes to my friends and I remember ordering personalized, tri-fold notes from the Lillian Vernon catalog. I started collecting stationery as a teenager and still go out of my way to find an actual stationery store. (I was really sad when Papyrus closed its stores!)
Get yourself some nice notecards. They can be personalized with your name or your business name, or just simple, good quality cards and envelopes.
My favorite stationers at the moment are Sugar Paper, Paper Source and of course Crane —my perennial favorite for classy, elegant notecards and paper. I also have a stash of notecards imprinted with my business logo from Vistaprint.
You’ll need a supply of postage stamps at hand. You can purchase first class “Forever” stamps at usps.com and have them sent directly to you. Consider adding a little personality beyond the basic American flag. I’m always amazed at the variety of themes and illustrations on U.S. postage stamps, from the arts and sciences to history and holidays.
Or, get totally on-brand with custom stamps from stamps.com. Upload your logo, your headshot, or a custom message.
You’ll need a good pen. It doesn’t have to be fancy; I’ve long since given up on writing with a fountain pen (a teenage phase). My current go-to is a black Sharpie® brand pen that delivers clean, crisp lines with no ink blobs.
Tip: Keep your note writing supplies organized in a drawer or in a box for easy access and use. No more rummaging around drawers and cubbies for a stamp!
What to write
When it’s time to reach out and connect with your recipient, craft a message that best fits the occasion.
For a congratulatory note, start by stating the occasion for the congratulations. Then make a statement that links the person and the occasion. Convey your good wishes, and then write an appropriate closing.
Here’s an example. Feel free to swipe this!
Dear Ms. Name,
My congratulations to you for being named to the board of directors for Sample Foundation. I’ve long admired your philanthropic work in Sample City, and I have no doubt that the entire community will benefit from your vision and leadership.
Best wishes for your continued success!
Be sure include your business card in the note. Remember, we’re building rapport and connection, so avoid a “hard sell” or a specific call to action, at least at first. Depending on your relationship with the recipient, you may want to close with an invitation or soft offer, such as “I would love to meet for coffee as your schedule permits.”
Other potential messages are gratitude or admiration (for something they wrote in an article or book, for example); or an introduction (of yourself, or referring a client to them). It can even be as simple as saying “it was nice to meet you” as a follow up to an initial meeting at an event.
My book 101 Ways to Say Thank You dives into the “how-to” of sending a thank-you note, and includes verbiage for business situations, too.
If you’re stuck for words for other occasions, there are several books out there that can help. One of my favorites is the Lifetime Encyclopedia of Letters.
Before social media, we had social correspondence. And let’s face it: handwritten notes are a lost art. Using these tips you can use the rarity of a handwritten note to distinguish yourself.
Ultimately, nurturing goodwill at every opportunity is a great way to expand your reach and build your brand.
(Note: I provide links to third party sites as a convenience; with the exception of my book, I make no money or other benefit from the links contained herein. Find out why I’m saying this here.)
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