There is something magical about receiving a hand-written note. Assuming that the content of the note is desirable, they give a sort of warm fuzzy feeling that can only be approximated by flowers or a box of chocolates.
As communication now is all about instantaneous delivery, hand-written greetings – especially when delivered by mail – are rendered more charming by their slowness. They tell the recipient that the writer took the time to scratch out something on paper rather than pounding it out on a keyboard; that the writer bothered to put the note into an envelope, was willing to *gasp*pay for a stamp to send it, and find the now-rare-species of Mailboxus to deposit the note.
Hand-written notes have personality. As the quality of our handwriting deteriorates, our hand becomes less perfect and more packed with personality and quirk. There may be scratched-out words and spelling mistakes galore. These are things that would be unforgivable when written in a program with spell-check but strangely charming in this context. They boast greater sincerity (whether real or no) then something printed out in perfect computer-based font. Our array of digital fonts can never provide the same communication of sheer character than a single hand-written note.
One of the best business relationship building weapons I have in my arsenal is a pack of old-fashioned Thank You cards. I go through quite a lot of these. There are always occasions where you can send someone such a card. Thank people who have taken you for coffee or lunch. Thank professionals who have gifted you with time in one way or another. Has someone gone above and beyond what they promised you? Send them a thank-you card. Did you receive a referral? That’s another thank-you card occasion. Send them out with abandon. They feel great to send and wonderful to receive. But the rub is that they must be an actual card, with a hand-written note, mailed to the intended recipient.
If you are concerned that sending out such cards seems too familiar, too grannyish, or too feminine, despair not! There are so many varieties of these cards out there that you can easily find ones that suit your personality, the character of your recipient, or even the specific reason for the thanks. For my business-related thank you cards, I prefer to go for a more masculine colour scheme, font, and colour. Personal thank you cards run the gamut from elegant and feminine to bold and a little hyper. It is actually rather fun picking out the most appropriate card from the pile.
Including postage, each thank-you card ends up costing me about $2 and takes about ten minutes to write. They invariably have more impact than any thank-you note sent over email. It’s cheaper and faster than taking someone out for coffee, and the warm feeling lasts much longer.