Dr. Freelance: I’ve heard people on both sides of the hard-copy, handwritten thank you note vs. email thank you argument, and wondering your opinion on the appropriate way for a freelancer to thank someone for a first client meeting.—Thankful in CT
Thankful: Call me old school, but I am a bigger fan of the hard-copy, handwritten thank you note than its email cousin—which is not to say that a freelancer shouldn’t send an immediate thank you via email, as well. Consider that the prospective client has spent 30, 60 or more minutes of their valuable time with you…the courteous thing to do is thank them appropriately.
Here’s my reasoning for the more formal approach to business etiquette:
- Not everyone does it, so you’re instantly distinctive in the client’s mind—it’s simply a classy move
- With a logoed card, you’ll make an additional brand impression—with the benefit that it’s tactile as well as visual
- You can drop a pair of business cards in the envelope
My stationery of choice is a tall, thin card that fits precisely into a #10 envelope. It’s on a high-quality paper stock, emblazoned with a nice, big company logo at the top, and contact info in the footer, designed by Jane Gerke of Rubi Studio and printed by Allegra Print & Imaging. It’s the perfect size for three or four sentences to express my thanks to the prospective client and that I’m looking forward to working with them.
Finally, I’m going to climb on my business etiquette soapbox for a minute. To me, anything you can do to make the business world a friendlier, more pleasant place is a worthwhile gesture. I don’t have any quantifiable, scientific evidence that a handwritten thank you note on nice stationery delivers superior ROI to a thoughtful email note. And sure, the formality might turn off someone that is too hip for such things. But from my perspective, I appreciate being appreciated, and I imagine my prospective freelance clients will feel the same way.
Freelancers: If you’re interested in seeing a sample of my thank you card, send me your snail mail address through the “Ask the Doc” link in the sidebar, and I’ll drop one in the mail.