A handwritten, personal note is the most powerful form of written communication available to us in one on one communication. When did you last received a note in the mail and how did you feel?
About eight months ago, I received a handwritten note from a mentor. The note said he was happy with what I was doing in my business and that he was glad to be working with me. The note is now pinned to my bulletin board and I see it every day.
The time it takes to purchase a note card, write the note card, and send or deliver the card shows a level of time and energy investment that cannot be matched by other forms of electronic communication. A handwritten note is a tangible object that the receiver can choose to save and read for an extended time into the future. It also is a tactile object, unlike electronic communication. By being tactile, it incorporates another sense (kinesthetic) into the process, making the experience more memorable for the receiver.
Think about how many emails or text messages you have from a year ago, or even 5 years ago. Do you save any of them? Probably not. However, I have saved personal notes that were written to me 20 years ago. They are some of my most prized possessions. The technology to read the note never goes out of date, and there is a level of connection created by a handwritten note that cannot be replicated by the digital age.
Sometimes people have a hard time getting started sending handwritten notes because they just don’t know in what particular situations sending a handwritten note is appropriate. Here are a few ideas to get your started:
Birthdays are the low hanging fruit in the notecard writing world. It is easy to keep a stock of basic birthday cards in your office drawer. Simply pull one out about a week before someone’s birthday and write a one or two sentence message on the inside. There is no reason to make it any more complicated than that. The whole process should take less than two minutes.
One of my partner’s at The Group, Inc., Linda Hopkins, is a master of the congratulations note card. She reads the local newspaper every morning and then clips any news articles she sees that are related to her clients, her client’s children, grandchildren, businesses, etc. She then jots a quick notecard with two sentences: “I saw…(Johnie graduated from high school, Sally won her track meet, Bob’s company had a great quarter) in the newspaper. Congratulations! Thought you might want an extra copy of the article.” How easy is that?
Thank you notecards can be an extremely meaningful form of handwritten communication because so few people use them any more. A great time to send a thank you is after any initial meeting with a client. Immediately putting a note in the mail saying it was a pleasure to meet and thanking them for spending some time with you puts you ahead in the relationship building process. Another great time is when someone does something for you that makes you feel grateful for them. Some examples may be: a mentor takes some time out of their schedule and meets with you to give you some business or life advice; your child’s soccer coach spends a little extra time with them after practice; the barista at the local coffee shop makes your morning mocha just the way you like it.
Thinking of you
This can apply to any situation when someone enters your mind. Perhaps you know someone is going through a tough situation and a note that you are thinking about them can mean so much and help them feel supported. It might be as simple as you going back to a restaurant, vacation destination or enjoying a specific bottle of wine that you once shared that brought back a special memory. Telling that person you thought of them in that experience is highly likely to touch their heart. This is one of the most endearing and most personalized types of personal notes you can write.
When doing your handwritten notes remember your immediate family members and close friends. Imagine how your significant other would feel receiving a handwritten note telling them how much you appreciate them and all they do, or one to a child telling them they are terrific just the way they are, or a note to a close friend thanking them for their years of friendship.
These are just a few examples of opportunities to send personal note cards. As you get in the habit you will discover many more. My best advice - if you feel like you should send a handwritten note, you should. If you don’t have time to do it right at that moment, then jot down the person’s name and reason in your Ninja Planner and do it as part of your Morning Routine the next day. Remember, everyone appreciates receiving a handwritten note card and you will make their day!