I went out to my mailbox expecting a some junk mail, perhaps a credit card application for my son who is away at college or maybe some glossy brochures for other colleges for my teenage son.
There may have been some of those there, but I only remember one thing: A completely unexpected package from a gourmet chocolate shop in Brooklyn.
A couple of weeks earlier I had read an article about the shop and the creative way the owner managed her small business with two teenager daughters not in school due to the pandemic. I enjoyed the article so much that I sent her a note of encouragement. It was a complete surprise then, a week later, when I received a gift package of some of their delights, thanking me for the note!
This sort of casual note writing is something I wish I had started doing many years earlier; okay, maybe decades earlier. But in recent years in particular as the amount of “real mail” has effectively dropped to zero for most people, the value of a hand-written note is exponentially greater.
It has been my practice forever to handwrite all thank yous to my ministry partners, so each partner gets at least one per year. But it was five years ago January I made a major change to how I write thank you notes: I expanded the scope of my letter writing beyond just ministry partners to anyone I feel inspired to write to. Many of these come from my daily reading of The Wall Street Journal, though it can be hard often to find an address to mail a thank you. I’ve sent cards to co-workers locally and across the country.
There’s one little thing I have found very important when it came to stepping up my thank you note writing: Materials. One time I discovered my writing notes (to partners and others) had plummeted, and a quick analysis showed me why: I ran out of cards! Now I keep a huge supply of cards and I have a folder full of various and colourful stamps to match the mood, season, recipient interests, etc.
I do not write this to toot my own horn. But I have found that as a coach, I do have to share my personal experiences (good and bad) so that others can learn. Maybe no one else will do exactly what I’ve done, but without seeing what others strive to do, it is harder to be challenged ourselves.
Since I started doing this, to my surprise about 10% of the people to whom I have written have also sent a response, almost always hand-written although some came by email.
That’s the principle. Now here’s the TntConnect application.
To log all of these “thank yous” (or “letters”, rather, because not all are necessarily “thanks”), I created a general contact I named “Thank-a-thon”. For every letter I send that does not go to someone in my contact list, I just log it there. I put the recipient’s name in parenthesis, followed by a short description of the note, and I finish with the label of the actual card I sent (I do this with all personal cards since I use a variety of cards; I never want to send someone the same card twice). In the task notes I usually put the address I used.
Since the pandemic it has been harder to write these types of letters in part because my interactions with people have been significantly reduced compared to prior years.
p.s. Free tip… I also have a catch-all contact I call “Contractors” where I log calls and service visits with the plumber, car repair, well & septic services, etc. This has helped me because a few times I have sought a contractor’s phone number several years later and I can look it up by finding the original appointment and checking my notes.