Thursday, June 21, 2007

Handwritten Notes Are Cool

Anyone who has ever seen me speak knows that I am a big believer in taking the time to send a handwritten note. This should be done when you first meet someone whom you want to get to know better, or as a "thank you" when someone in your network improves your life in some manner.

While delivering a presentation to a room of 200 technology professionals, a woman raised her hand when I spoke about the power of the handwritten note. She said (and I am not making this up) "My clients work in the technology world, and they only like email. To send an handwritten note would send a message that I am my own grandmother. Nobody in tech likes personal notes. In fact...I think it offends people". Wowwy.

She was as passionate about anti-handwritten correspondence as anyone I had ever met. I just stood there in silence for a few seconds. The response I wanted to give was "OHHHHH PLEEEAASSSSSEEEEEE... Get over yourself" (but that would have been rude). I did argue with her, stating that I was sure she was wrong, that a handwritten thank-you note would never be considered offensive by anyone, and would actually stand out from the hundreds of emails that are received daily by most executives.

I have thought a lot about this exchange over the past few months. What this woman failed to recognize is that doing something "cool" and "memorable" is not about doing the same thing as everyone else. If everyone in her industry (aka: her competition) only correspond by email, then an occasional note card will make her special. What makes things "cool" is just the fact that they are not the norm.

I was not suggesting that she only contact people in this manner (and I did not say to send the letters by Pony Express). Email is a useful tool for all kinds of interactions. Yet for following up on a first time meeting or to say "Thanks", it will go a lot farther if you invest the time to put it in writing.

Go ahead, try it. Send a handwritten note to someone. Be cool.

Have A Great Day.



Anonymous said...

Hi Thom,

I've been enjoying your blog's feed for only a few days, but felt that I should comment on this post. I love handwritten letters and (except for falling off of the wagon for the last couple of years) always do a snail mail Xmas card/letter.

However, I do understand this woman's position. I'm only 46, but that age would be seen as quite Jurassic in some places, and if I sent handwritten notes, I could see how as an older woman, that might be perceived as dowdy and geezerly.

I'm the sort who would do it anyway, to teach the whippersnappers some class, :) but I can really see how this woman would object.

Thanks for your useful posts (I'm up in Round Rock; we should have coffee sometime.)

Glenn said...


Handwritten Thank you notes rock! The lady was wrong. Well, maybe only half wrong. I usually send an immediate e-mail thank you followed by a handwritten note. I have never received any negative feedback.