The handwritten note is an especially important means of communication in both the personal and professional worlds. It not only strengthens the bonds between people, it also rings an emotional chord. If you want to build or maintain relationships, not to mention profit in your small business, you need to understand the value of writing notes by hand.

If your goal is to stand out from your competition, be noticed and be remembered, the simple act of writing a note to your potential or current client or to a business colleague will help you to accomplish just that.

To prove this point even further, here is a quote from an employer referenced in a New York Times article on The Found Art of Thank You Notes:

Heather Wiese, owner of Bell’Invito, a luxury stationer in Dallas, said, “If you want to stand out, to be more polished, probably the easiest thing you can do is write that thank you note.” She added: “Social media, texting and email are all completely relevant. But if after I’ve put my effort forward to interview a potential employee what I get is an email that looks exactly like 200 others, I may miss it.”

The following taken from the article Is the Handwritten Thank You Note a Lost Art, is a great primer on when, where, what and how you should write a thank you note.

When should you write a thank you note?

  • Whenever someone takes more than fifteen minutes to do something for you. You may simply receive the gift of someone’s time, his or her advice, a helping hand or an online mention. Whenever another person does something thoughtful, return the favor with a small gift of your time by writing a note. You would be surprised to learn how many people save these notes.
  • Whenever you receive a gift, a handwritten thank you note is the only acceptable response. Forget sending an email or texting. Send a personal acknowledgement.
  • Whenever you receive an introduction to a potential client, a handwritten thank you note is in order.
  • Whenever someone gives you the gift of his or her time to meet with you, send that handwritten note. And always write to thank the person who has hosted you to a meal.

What are the rules for sending a proper handwritten thank you note?

  • Be brief. That is probably the good news. It need not take all day. A handwritten thank you does not need to be lengthy. If that is what is holding you back, get over it. Your note does not need to exceed three or four sentences.
  • Use appropriate stationary that reflects your brand or personality. A single-sided correspondence card works as well as a fold-over note. If you are writing a note to a business client or associate, use a card or note that reflects your personal brand.

What is a simple formula to help you create a handwritten thank you note?

  • Use an appropriate greeting. Begin with “Dear Mr. Jones” if this is your first time corresponding. Never use a client’s first name until you have permission. If you know the person and are on a first name basis, say, “Hi John,” or Hello John.” Always begin by using the person’s name or title and name.
  • Acknowledge the gift or the event specifically. Say, “Thank you for the book,” or “Thank you for lunch.”
  • Mention how you will use the gift or remember the event. “I will enjoy reading the book and am sure that it will be useful.” For lunch or dinner, write about how much you enjoyed that particular restaurant—calling it by name—and describing a specific aspect of the meal or conversation.
  • Close with another thank you. Don’t feel you are overdoing it to repeat your appreciation. You are reinforcing your gratitude.
  • Use an appropriate closing. Depending upon your relationship, use the words, “Regards,” “Sincerely,” “All the best,” or whatever feels comfortable for the situation.

Last tip: Keep your thank you notes or correspondence cards close at hand along with stamps. That will make it easy for you to return to your office and dash off a thank you without delay.