I feel a bit redundant thanking you, Mark and Mike, for what you have produced here. I am a physician venturing into the world of IT consulting, and my mentor recommended you-- one of the best tips I have ever received. Clear, concise and pragmatic advice abounds. I am systematically working my way through past podcasts, and am repeatedly pleased (yet no longer surprised) at wthe quality of what I find.

So here is my question:

I had a phone interview with a consulting firm, where all communication has been over email or on the phone (I have worked with people from their company in my current position). Their website has no address listed for either their office or any of their principals. I sent an email thank you for the phone interview, recognizing that it wasn't an optimal response.

My mentor was having lunch yesterday with their Chairman of the Board and a senior VP (my organization is a client of this consulting firm) and on their way back to the office he suggested they meet with me. I happened to be in the office briefly, not dressed for an interview at all, but I agreed since I felt it would be poor form to refuse-- their only being in town briefly. I feel the interview went well but, again, the issue of thank you notes rears up. I now have an address for their offices, but both men travel quite a bit. I don't know what proper etiquette would be-- an email thank you that they are more likely to receive promptly, or a written thank you that I am not sure will reach them any time soon?

Thanks in advance for any assistance, comments, or advice from anyone.

Mark's picture

Handwritten thank you note, mailed to their offices. Travel doesn't matter.

Having the address makes it necessary.


joolzb's picture

I had a similar dilemma to i_moore as I was interviewed by two senior sales executives (regional manager and director of sales).

The location of the regional manager is static and where the position would be based out of and the director of sales works out of all the offices.

I decided to hand write my note, addressed to both executives at the regional office address - I did this in the local McDonalds on my way home and had it in the mail that very night. (previously drafted this at home).

For future interviews I am considering pre-writing the note and handing it into the receptionist upon leaving. Would this be seen as being too over the top or is the magic held in it arriving in the mail the next morning?


Mark's picture

Either is fine, Julian. There are times when delivering it immediately has value, and times when the mail sends the right message.

One of the keys is to make sure that something in the note references something in the interview, so if you drop it off, it can't be thought to have been prewritten.


GlennR's picture

A very highly respected major gifts fundraiser once said that, after meeting with the donor/prospect, he never turns on the engine in his car until he writes the thank you note.

I adapted that to become "I write the thank you note that day, and I don't leave town until I do." That means [b]I carry about six thank you notes and at least that many first class stamps. [/b]There's frequently time between appointments to write the notes. If I'm working in a town different than mine, I mail the note there, since that usually expedites the process.

Nowadays I usually do a quick e-mail thank you and then follow it with a handwritten note. It is okay to thank someone more than once.



lou's picture

I agree with GlennR's method. I take the Thank You paper, envelopes and stamps with me. When I receive a business card I pop it in one of the envelopes. On my way out the door I stop off at a coffee shop and write the notes and put them in the mailbox.

One advantage is that the mail is local, so it should be delivered faster (2-3 days tops), the other is that I won't forget. And by making a habit of receiving business cards (I always ask if they don't offer) and putting them in the envelope, I make more certain that I don't forget anyone.

itilimp's picture

I'm curious. Is this a cultural thing that we folks in the UK don't do or is it just that I've never seen it done myself?

Other than receiving and sending a 'thanks for...' e-mail I've never seen this on paper in the environment I work in.

When would you expect to be sending thank you letters? Is there a danger of if you send them for something seemingly insignificant (but perhaps significant to you) that they'll be viewed negatively instead of favorably?

joolzb's picture

I think its along the same line as 'Haggling', in the UK its just not done very often, but when we are on holiday we all indulge and enjoy the experience. Have you ever tried to haggle with a shop assistant in the UK, they look at you like you have sprouted a 2nd head!!!

Some goes with the handwritten note and Im sure that as long as you are sending a thankyou note after a 'special' meeting i.e. Interview then its fine but if you popped in for the 2nd sales call of the week or an informal coffee with your line manager/director or whoever then it would be seen as a little odd.

And like Mark says, add something specific from the meeting otherwise it may appear like you have prepared it before the session.

Same goes for closing in the UK, its all meant to add power to your cause, basically making you stand out from the crowd and I am 100% sure it does.


ctomasi's picture

I too keep several "thank you", a few "Happy Birthday", some "Congratulations", and blank cards just to be on the safe side. It does make an impression because it is something so few people do.

GlennR's picture

Excellent idea about the b'day and Congrats cards. To that I'd add a couple of "Get Well cards."

I keep meaning to stock up on those and never do. After I press "send" I'm adding that to my master "next actions" list.

Thanks for the reminder.



Mark's picture

Good thought, Chuck.

As well, I encourage everyone to have some nice stationary made with your name on it. No company information, no address, just your name. As a manager, you can probably afford it.

I particularly like the non-folding cards - that way, you can either put them in envelopes, or just clip them to something, or just leave them on someone's desk.

Short, handwritten notes... they're SAFFRON!!!


Mark's picture

The best thank you note I ever got was from a Brit: (Tony Blair!)

Handwritten notes are not any more common among Yanks than Brits or Aussies or the French or Italians or Germans. Many Americans have never seen them, or only rarely. That makes them all the more valuable.

In getting and writing thousands, I've never once heard even a whiff of negativity. In fact, just the opposite. Try it and draw your own conclusions.

(IT people are the WORST at it, by the way.)


wendii's picture

Oh My! So now when I say,... Mark says (which happens about 3 times a week) and they say who's Mark and the reply now goes .. he's this GREAT guy.. blah blah blah TONY BLAIR blah blah, check out!

Mark, how did you get to be so cool!


PS.. I think it's an aristo thing to do thank you cards - Diana did too.

Mark's picture


I stumbled into it, kicking and screaming, rest assured. :wink:

It IS an aristo thing, though it's not a toff thing, in my opinion. It's popular in many circles to deride the culture of old wealth, while celebrating (gauchely, in my opinion) the habits of modern wealth. Nevertheless, simply because it is an aristo habit doesn't make it worthy of derision. ( I kinow you weren't saying it was, but there ares some Yanks who might have drawn the inference in error.)

There was a time when aristocracy could be counted on for raising their children well. It's less true today, but the civil behaviors that high society
engaged in are available to all.

It is simply an elegant way to express genuine appreciation, and the beauty of it is that it can last forever. I love my latest cell phone (Treo), but I've had 20 different types over the years, surely. I have cards written to me (some framed) from 20 years ago.

And with a fountain pen... sublime!


Dani Martin's picture

As a Yankee (as in above in the M-D line) by birth and Southerner by choice, the hand-written thank you note on personalized stationary (embossed, thank you very much) is a part of daily life in the South.

After marrying a true Southern gentleman last year who gave me embossed notecards as a wedding gift, I have used nearly 500 of them already!

GlennR's picture

>>(IT people are the WORST at it, by the way.) <<

That's because there are no keyboards or voice-activated software involved :lol:

GlennR's picture

For those of you who have no experience in writing thank you notes, this 1:09 minute video from may be helpful.

(Full disclosure: I write a blog for them, but I'm posting this URL because I believe it adds to the dialogue here.)