Written by Jenny Blake
In Part One we talked about ditching the “spray and pray” networking approach, instead identifying clear goals for a small set of people that you are most excited to connect with this year. In Part Two, relationship-building expert Michael Roderick shared his daily GATE strategy: Give, Ask, Thank, and Experiment.
Today’s post covers The Art of the (Creative) Thank You, particularly when building relationships with mentors, or people a few steps farther ahead in their career.
John Muscarello is a master of the unique, memorable thank you. He had taken one of my online courses, then we met in person for a coffee. Later in the mail, he sent me a book called The Millionaire Messenger with a personal inscription on the inside cover:
April 29, 2012
This is an amazing book, and I think it can really help you spread your message. It covers the dreaded sales process, ways to maximize revenue, and most importantly how to help tons of people. I hope that you enjoy the book. You deserve nothing but the best!
—John (with his business card paper clipped to the cover as well)
I thanked him at the time, then two years later, when I revisited the book, I sent him another thank you note. John wrote a blog post about our exchange, explaining why books make the best thank you gifts and how this practice originated with his grandmother:
Gift cards run out of money, fancy pens eventually run out of ink, and notebooks usually get filled up and put aside. When was the last time you threw out a helpful book? The key to making it memorable is writing a note with a date on the inside cover.
I picked up this technique from my grandma. We shared a love for reading. Every time she gave me a book she wrote a note on the inside cover, and put the date at the top. Even to this day, when I pick up a book I think of my grandma and remember what was going on in my life.
John says you can do the same with the “OWLS formula.” Here’s how:
- Order 5-10 copies of your favorite book on Amazon, so you have them when the occasion is right.
- Who in your network has recently helped you or would enjoy the book? Make a list of 5-10 people.
- List the reasons why you’re sending the book. Write a little note why you are sending the book. It could be as simple as “I knew you would love this book, because….” Include a way the person can contact you. I always put my email address.
- Ship the book. People love to get packages, especially when they are not expecting them. If you can’t find their home address, send it to their office.
Thank you notes are great, but one of the best ways to thank a mentor is to follow-up on her advice (when it resonates).
Beyond a simple thank you note, which should be a no-brainer, following up on your mentor’s advice lets her know that you are paying attention and focused on taking action. Seeing your incremental progress will be rewarding for her as it is for you, and hopefully you will even be able to return the favor in other meaningful ways down the road (making connections, sending articles, applying your unique skills to an area she needs help with).
Who do you respect or admire that you already have loose ties with, where you would like to develop that relationship further?
I suggest brainstorming around the following categories:
- Strongest Ties: Connection is already “warm”; very likely to be responsive and willing to help
- 50/50: Might respond to an email or request for a phone call
- Long Shot: To quote Lloyd from Dumb & Dumber, “So you’re sayin’ there’s a chance!”
What strategies have helped you build relationships with people you admire? What strategies have worked best when people reached out to you? What made you most likely to say yes?
This article was sponsored by University of Phoenix. I’m a compensated contributor, but all thoughts and ideas are my own.
Jenny Blake is the author of Life After College and the forthcoming book The Pivot Method. She is a career and business strategist and an international speaker who helps smart people organize their brain, move beyond burnout, and build sustainable, dynamic careers they love. Jenny combines her love of technology with her superpower of simplifying complexity to help clients through big transitions — often to pivot in their career or launch a book, blog or business. Today you can find her here on this blog (in its 8th year!) and at JennyBlake.me, where she explores the intersection of mind, body and business. Follow her on Twitter @jenny_blake.