Etiquette rules may dictate that you have one year to send a wedding gift, but when it comes to business gratitude, your communication must be nearly instantaneous.
Too often, we're so busy looking for what we can GET out of a business relationship that we forget about the importance of GIVING - even something as simple as saying "thank you."
Here's the simple rule of thumb: When something positive happens in your career or business, trace it back to the person who helped make it happen and express your gratitude. Success doesn't happen in a vacuum.
Be sure your gratitude is of proper measure. Landing a major press opportunity or a big-money client demands more than a cursory email. The form of gratitude should have proportion to the significance of the opportunity.
The way you say thank you can also be part of your brand. My personal notes arrive on custom notecards, and I'm known for enclosing confetti stars in the envelopes (you've been warned). This year, I've been delighted to upgrade by giving my book Game Plan as a thank-you to new business contacts.
Best of all, being in a place of gratitude has immeasurable benefits for your own well-being. Focusing on the people, opportunities, and circumstances for which you are grateful puts you in a place of positivity and possibility.
Here's my personal list of actions which demand a thank-you, and how I thank my contacts. Feel free to use it, or create your own.
Thank You for connecting me with my newest client.
If a connection brings you income, it's a thank-you that's both important and urgent. I send a gift to contacts who act as my unpaid salespeople, referring me to new clients who eventually purchase my services. It's a small price to pay to incentivize my income, and gifts are often tax-deductible.
Thank you for getting me that meeting.
Whether it's a job interview or potential client meeting, valuable contacts have opened countless doors that have built my professional network and my business.
Thank you for getting me that media or speaking opportunity.
Some of my most notable media interviews have been the result of a connection through a mutual contact, and every single one of my speaking engagements have been the result of a professional connection. I send a personal thank-you email to both the interviewer and the connector.
Thank you for that introduction.
A simple email is sufficient to thank someone for a new contact - but be sure to go above and beyond if that introduction leads to a new project.
Thank you for inviting me to that event.
Tips on great business or network-building events demand a thank you phone call or email.
Thank you for your free advice.
When a professional consultant, self-employed service person, or high-level contact makes time for me without charging, I thank them tangibly with a simple gift. Their time is their income, so it's vital to acknowledge that they essentially gave me their product for free.
Thank you for bending the rules for me.
Did you get complimentary entry to an event or a special discount on a service? Depending on the value, send a note or a gift.
Thank you for being awesome.
Some contacts are continual sources of inspiration, motivation, and opportunities. I keep them in my circle of gratitude by surprising them with a copy of my book, an unsolicited LinkedIn recommendation, sharing their content to my social networks, making personal introductions, emailing articles relevant to their industry, flagging media opportunities, or my all-time favorite, snail-mailing a classic handwritten card. With confetti stars, of course.