THE BLOG
01/13/2014 02:44 pm ET | Updated Mar 15, 2014

How to Send a Professional Thank You Note

When it comes to business communication, few tools are as simple and powerful as the handwritten thank you note.

In the age of texts and emails, a handwritten note sets you apart as a professional with an appreciation for the importance of every detail. Clearly, it's a win-win; the recipient feels good that his or her success or gesture of kindness is acknowledged, and it distinguishes the writer for having executive manners. Best of all, it's fast, easy and sends a powerful message.

Thank You Note Etiquette

Follow some simple steps. It's easy as 1-2-3-4-5:

  1. Start with a greeting, using the person's name.
  2. Follow with a line or two thanking him or her for the particular gift or kind gesture.
  3. Mention the gift or gesture and how you plan to use it, or how it made a positive impact on you.
  4. Close with a kind sentiment, perhaps a call to action such as lunch or coffee in the near future (then follow up).
  5. End with "Sincerely" or "Best regards" (save "Love" for immediate family and close friends) and sign your name.

Above all, remember that even a note written in your worst handwriting is better than not sending a note at all.

Stock up on stationery. An engraved piece of stationery is worth its weight in gold. The best option is a supply of both personal stationery with your initials or name along with a supply of high-quality stationery with your name and company logo. In both cases, flat, heavy, high-quality correspondence cards measuring approximately 4" by 6" are ideal for their versatility (and they are less imposing than a full sheet of paper when you want to send a brief note of thanks or congratulations). Check with your supervisor about ordering professional stationery (your company may work with a supplier and provide this as a business expense). It's also perfectly acceptable to write a business note on tasteful personal stationery. A stationer can talk you through options, but stick to a classic ink color, black is most preferable.

There are many reasons to say thanks. A thank you note is not only reserved for acknowledging a gift, but for an act of kindness, a special service, a business lunch, someone's time or any other effort above and beyond the call of duty. For example, a client who gives your company an endorsement or referral, someone who connects you with a new business lead, or a mentor who spends her lunch hour sharing important career advice.

A pre-printed card should always be touched with ink. Use cards with pre-printed sentiments for special holidays and birthdays. Even if the card says "Thank you" on the outside, it still requires your personal thoughts and signature. Never assume your client will recognize who you are with only your first name, "Sincerely, Dawn". It's safest to assume your recipient may have several business associates with the same first name; signing your first and last name on the card is the best option.

Keep a book of stamps in your office desk. Skip the meter when you are sending a thank you note. A stamp conveys a more personal message, along with a hand written envelope. Regardless of your penmanship, a computer generated label lacks the warmth of an authentic "Thank you".

For more Thank You Note Etiquette Tips, you may also like How to Write a Memorable and Mannerly Thank You Note or Job Interview Etiquette: Follow-up Letter Q & A's. Visit my blog, connect with me here on the Huffington Post, follow me on Pinterest and "like" me on Facebook at Protocol School of Texas.