How To Write A Great Professional Thank You Note

by JOHN MUSCARELLO / Follow Me on Twitter Here

Professional Thank You Note

Someone in your network has given you valuable advice. What’s the secret to writing a great professional thank you note?

Do you send them an email?  Do you send them a hand-written note?  Do you send them a little gift?

What do you say?  We have all heard that you shouldn’t push your own agenda, ask for a job, or try to close the sale.

I am going to answer all those questions and show you how to get a response like this: “Talk about making yourself memorable! That’s so classy and appreciated.  Thank you!”

Thank You Tweet

How Did My Professional Thank You Note Get That Response?

I sent a hand-written thank you note, which is extremely rare these days, and two helpful books.  I followed an acronym I created called G.R.E.A.T (Grateful, Reference, Explanation, Action, Thanks).  I use this process when I write all my professional thank you notes.

Thank you notes are very tricky to write.  They are not as straight forward as the networking follow up email.  So let’s get into it.

A couple of weeks ago I spoke with Lea McLeod.  Lea is the founder of Degrees Of Transition, a career website that helps recent grads and mid-careerists navigate the job search.  Lea is super smart and someone who really understands the career space.

I took about two pages of notes during the phone call (Here’s Why!)  After getting off the phone with Lea my head was spinning with tons of great ideas.  I wanted to do something special for Lea, besides simply sending a professional thank you note.

Thank You Note Books

During our phone call Lea mentioned that she wanted to book more speaking gigs.  I asked her if she read Michael Ports book, “Book Yourself Solid” and she hadn’t.  We also talked about a book called the “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg.  I went on Amazon and bought both of the books. I had them shipped to my house (so I could include my hand written professional thank you note).

Next, I opened up a Word document (I draft every professional thank you note I send before I write on the actually card) and started writing the thank you note following the acronym: G.R.E.A.T.

Grateful For Their Time

  • The fact that someone spent 30-60 minutes of his or her time speaking with you deserves a thank you note.  Time is the most valuable possession that a person possesses.

Reference: What Did You Learn

  • Let the person know what you found most valuable during the phone conversation.

Professional Thank You NoteExplanation: Why Did You Send The Book (or gift)?

  • During the conversation, a problem the person is trying to solve is most likely going to come up.  I might not know how to solve the problem, but there is a good chance that I know of a book that can.
  • If you can’t think of a good book, search Amazon for a relevant title with high ratings.

Action:  Next Steps

  • If you talked about working together or a future call briefly talk about what the next steps will be.  THIS SHOULD NOT BE THE FOCUS OF THE NOTE!
  • If they gave you advice, follow up with them and let them know your results.  People love to hear when their advice works.  Actually taking action and following their advice will set you apart from all the other people they talk to.
  • They are ten times more likely to give you additional advice later on if you they know you really use their advice.

 Thanks:  Always End With Saying Thank You

  • I always end with “Thanks again” or “Thank you for your help ” and sign my name.

Here’s What A Great Professional Thank You Note Looks Like CLICK TO TWEET

“Date

Lea,

It was a pleasure speaking with you on the phone last week. I have talked to a lot of people in our space and haven’t learned as much from them as I did from you in an hour.

I took about a page of notes. Two key takeaways for me were:

  • We all know this stuff, but EVERYBODY NEEDS TO BE REMINDED.
  • Coaching helps you keep your finger on the pulse of the industry.

After I hung up the phone I said to myself “Lea, gets it!  She is going to be very successful”

I remember you saying that you wanted to get more speaking gigs. I sent you “Book Yourself Solid.” I have not read the book but a lot of the people on my network rave about the book. I also sent you “The Power Of Habit” because I know you will love it.

I hope that you enjoy the books and I really look forward to working with you.  I would be more than happy to help you plan and come up with ideas for “office hours.” I would love to contribute and be part of it as much as possible.

Thanks again,

John”

Remember that thank you notes aren’t for selling yourself.  If you want to write a great professional thank you note, follow the G.R.E.A.T formula above.

Have you ever received a horrible thank you note? Or maybe you received a GREAT and memorable thank you note?  Share your full story in the comments. I know there are going to be some great stories.

One more thing…

Do you have a friend that does a lot of networking and needs help writing a professional thank you note?  Do them (and me) a favor by sending them a link to this article. Thanks!

If you liked this post you might also like 10 Unconventional Networking Strategies That Get Results and The Best Way To Stay In Touch With Your Professional Network.

Like what you read?
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{ 28 comments… add one }

  • alberta

    Ohh thanks for such a nice article. Gratitude is very important for every human being mostly who have their own business and employee if we have a good way of talking then very thing get easy for us like clients, business partner etc.

    Reply
  • Abby

    Hi John,

    I’ve just needed to write the first really important thank you letter as a young professional, and, at first, I thought your advice was very helpful. I wrote my letter and ticked off the point on my to-do list. Then, on shutting down my computer, I realised I needed to close all the extra tabs on my browser, where I had opened tabs to read for advice on drafting thank you notes. After reading your post, I had forgotten all about the other articles I had planned to read, and drafted my letter successfully without having any additional questions. I soon revised my original opinion of your article to be absolutely fantastic 🙂

    Reply
  • Matthew Fenn

    Excellent article John,
    Gratitude is very under valued in todays world and it certainly sets you apart from the crowd. My poor handwriting is the only thing that might make me worry about how such a hand written thank-you note might be received! I really appreciated reading the article and will definitely be taking this up going forward. Thanks again!

    Reply
  • Pranav Chaturvedi

    Hi John, I was greatly inspired by your principles of GREAT and wanted to Thank You.

    Reply
  • Brenda MacDonald

    I encourage Thank You notes/letters as part of my Interview Workshops and now I will revise my idea using your GREAT system. Thank You for your GREAT ideas and insight.

    Reply
    • John Muscarello

      That means the world to me Brenda. Please let me know if I can help you or any of your workshop students.

      Reply
  • Ashley R.

    Hi John, I really enjoyed reading your Thank You Note article. It was awesome and your tips were very helpful. Thank you so much for writing it, I really appreciate it!! I will remember and follow your advice!! I had a quick question – Is it best to deliver the gift + thank you note in person by visiting the person at their office? Or is it best to send the gift and note through Fedex, in order to make sure that it was received by the person successfully. Thank you for your help!

    Reply
    • John Muscarello

      Hi Ashley- Thank you for all of your kind words. I am glad that you enjoyed the article and found it helpful. I personally like to send thank you notes and gifts through the mail. I feel it’s super effective because most people don’t get anything in the mail unless they order something from Amazon. Plus it’s usually takes 3-5 days to get to the person, which will be a nice reminder of the interaction you had with the person. I like to call it “Surprise and Delight.”

      Reply
  • Isabel Albelda Ros

    Amazing article, thank you for sharing your G.R.E.A.T. system. I’m from Spain and we don’t use thank you notes all that much, but I’d say that’s all the more reason to start writing them -and specially so whith such a good way of writing them.

    Reply
  • Kevin

    Hi John, I just wanted to take a moment to say how much I agree with this. I know when I graduated –not long after you– I used this method and it worked great!! I would HIGHLY recommend sending thank you notes to everyone you interview with because it shows them you’re a top shelf kind of person who is willing to go above & beyond to stand out and go the extra mile.

    Reply
    • John Muscarello

      Kevin- Your comment made my day. I am happy you enjoyed the article and found it helpful.

      Reply
  • Ryan Biddulph

    A few moments of mindful gratitude makes the difference John, good tips here! TY notes are about the other person; express gratitude for all you received in the interaction, detaching from any personal outcomes like attracting a customer, or making a sale……become memorable by sincerely expressing gratitude.

    Make an impact. Be a pro. Say TY like a pro, aka, your steps above 😉

    Thanks for sharing!

    Ryan

    Reply
    • John Muscarello

      Ryan- Thanks for the insightful comment. The key to any thank you note is making it about the other person. As soon as you mention anything about sales, that’s when a person realizes why you sent the note. You have to have faith in the process!

      Reply
  • Kim

    This is so helpful – thank you for sharing the GREAT acronym. I’m a bit of a thank-you note nerd and took away some great tips for the next note I write. And the idea to send a book is something I’d never have considered.

    (Stoipped over from Ragan.)

    Reply
    • John Muscarello

      Hi Kim,
      I am glad that you found the GREAT acronym helpful. I have been sending books to people for the last couple of years. Everyone was always appreciative, but I never received a tweet like that before. Then it clicked that not everyone does this. I am glad to know there are other thank-you notes nerds out there 🙂

      Reply
  • Steve Levy (@levyrecruits)

    John…the next step is to invite them out for tea. Steve

    Reply
  • Tom Dixon

    Books work so well for this – because there is one that addresses nearly any problem. This is an exceptional format for a thank you, and will no doubt help face that blank piece of paper. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • John Muscarello

      My pleasure Tom. Thank you for your kind words. I am happy that my article will help you write your next thank you note!

      Reply
  • Melanie

    Awesome article, John! I’m so glad I clicked on your post through LinkedIn. I already use several of these steps when writing thank you notes, but the G.R.E.A.T acronym is a formula that’s easy to follow. I’ll be graduating college in December and know thank you notes will be frequently sent out as I start my career! Thanks!

    Reply
    • John Muscarello

      Hi Melanie,

      I am very happy to hear that you enjoyed my article. I know that you will find the acronym helpful when you start networking after your graduate. Please let me know if you need any networking and career advice. I would be happy to help.

      John

      Reply
  • Stan Phelps (@9INCHmarketing)

    G.R.E.A.T post John. Literally and figuratively.
    A handwritten note is a little thing that makes a big difference. The concept of follow up (customer) and recognition (employee) has been a main theme in my two books. There are great examples from Mitchell’s and Wufoo on the customer side:
    http://www.customerthink.com/blog/mitchells_and_wufoo_hug_their_customers_with_handwritten_notes
    Check out this example from former Campbell’s CEO on the employee side:
    http://www.customerthink.com/blog/the_power_of_the_pen_and_positive_feedback_campbellsoupco
    Best,
    Stan

    Reply
    • John Muscarello

      Thanks Stan. That means a ton coming from the author of The Purple Goldfish! Thank you for also including the great examples. We have to go to Argo Tea again really soon. Maybe the counter person will know the correct history this time!

      Reply
  • Sal

    Hey John,

    I love the acronym. Never heard it put that way, but very memorable.

    Line I most resonated with: “I might not know how to solve the problem, but there is a good chance that I know of a book that can.” Every great leader (and every great networker for that matter) has a reading habit. If you are not constantly consuming books and articles, you are at a serious disadvantage when it comes to networking. And the key is, you don’t have to memorize everything…you just need to know where to find it. That is the biggest difference between school and the real world.

    As far as helping someone solve a problem, isn’t that what networking is all about? Like you are so great at saying John, networking isn’t about what you can get out of the relationship / interview / event. Instead, networking is about either connecting people or ideas, and if you just so happen to be that person or have that idea, great. But you don’t always have to be that person or idea. As a matter of fact, I use the 80/20 rule in networking as well. 80% of the time, I am not the person or idea, but I know someone who is.

    Tying all this back in to a GREAT thank you letter, what better time to offer your knowledge? Not only will you be memorable with your uncommon act of sending a thank you, but you will become a great resource for the people you interact with.

    Reply
    • John Muscarello

      Hi Sal,

      Thank you for writing such a thoughtful comment. I agree when you say every great leader has a serious reading habit. I like when you said it’s more important to know where you can find the articles for reference, than memorizing all the facts in an article. I use Delicious to keep all my articles organized. Every article I tweet is automatically saved there, and is categorized by the hashtag I use. I also love that I can bookmark an article on any site with the click of a button.

      “I use the 80/20 rule in networking as well. 80% of the time, I am not the person or idea, but I know someone who is” This is an amazing idea and I love it. Being resourceful is one the easiest ways to building a strong network and relationships.

      I am glad that you find GREAT helpful. It took awhile to come up with, but I know it will help a ton of people. Let me know if you are ever in NY. You are way over due for a trip!

      Reply
  • Susan

    Lea really does “get it” she always gives valuable advice.

    Reply

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