building new castles every day

Thank You (Cards)

In Makings on November 3, 2012 at 8:03 AM

The latest batch of cards, for my colleagues at the Vancouver Writers Fest.
My contract may have come to an end, but I’m making sure our relationships don’t.

Gratitude is an investment in others. It is a sentiment which, when expressed, bolsters the relationships that enrich our lives.

And if good communication is all about crafting a clear, concise and compelling message to establish or maintain a connection, then thank-you cards are an perfect medium for showing gratitude!

There are many reasons to send thank-you cards:

  • You attended a fantastic dinner party (and you want the host to know they’re fantastic, too)
  • You were interviewed for a job (and you want to highlight the meeting in the hiring manager’s mind)
  • You received a business referral (and you want to articulate how much you value your network connection)
  • You received a thoughtful gift (and you want to return the thought)
  • You were given good advice (and want to stay connected with this clever person)
  • You were granted a spontaneous favour (and you want to recognize the good will)

For the business development geeks (like me), a thank-you card delivers the biggest return on investment when two key elements are included:

  1. Personalization
  2. Time

It’s one thing to write “Dear Miss Awesome — thank you!” in a factory card with the words “Merci!” printed on the front. But you can take your underlying message up a whole notch by writing a specific reason why you’re thanking that person.

People love anecdotes! So sit down and take a few extra minutes to consider your history with this person: Why are you grateful for them? What feelings did their actions conjure up inside you? What impact or change did they make in your life?

It’s the little things you can draw upon, so don’t worry about creating tear-jerking prose. A genuine thought written in your own voice will do the trick.

And then there’s a whole other level you can take your medium of gratitude: Handmade thank-you cards. Again, this takes time and personalization but it’s where you’ll really blow the recipient’s mind.

And it doesn’t need to be fancy! I keep a stock of envelopes and coloured card paper in my office, along with a selection of images I’ve gathered from magazines, newspapers and old books.

When you’re done reading a magazine, why not recover the printed graphics for another use?
This origami dress was repurposed from an issue of Vancouver-based GEIST magazine.

With bit of a glue and a quality ballpoint pen, you’ve got the tools to make a completely personalized thank-you card.

Note: If you’re the crafty type, I recommend keeping a few other card-making tools on hand: Glue stick, utility knife, a personalized stamp or seal, ink pad or sealing wax, coloured pens, pencil sharpener.

With the proliferation of cast-off materials to be found in our consumable world, there’s no need to spend several dollars on a factory note card. Of course, not every situation warrants a handmade card. But if it suits your personality, and will resonate with the recipient, I say craft it up.

And since email hasn’t completely eradicated the postal service, take advantage of the system and create joy! Receiving something beautiful and personal in one’s (physical) mailbox beats bills and flyers any day.

For the cost of a stamp and the 20 minutes you spend crafting your message, a thank-you card will help to ensure a lifetime of valued relationships. A worthy investment indeed.

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