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Discover the secrets to effective business writing and crafting messages that others want to read and act on. Judy Steiner-Williams, senior lecturer at Kelley School of Business, introduces you to the 10 Cs of strong business communication and provides you with before-and-after writing samples that give you the opportunity to apply each principle and sharpen your communication skills. Judy also points out common grammar and writing mistakes and shares special considerations for formats like emails and reports.
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When was the last time you sent a handwritten note? Have you received one lately? When you get your mail from your mailbox, what do you open first? Chances are, you eagerly open the handwritten envelopes first. In this age of electronic communication, the handwritten note is viewed as personal, special, memorable, and appreciated. In what types of situations is the handwritten note appropriate? Maybe to show your gratitude to that client who called your boss to compliment you on how you handled a situation.
Or to follow up after the first meeting with a potential customer. Perhaps to congratulate a coworker on his/her promotion, or to thank that person who took the time to interview you, or to express your condolences to your subordinate for a death in her family. That handwritten note could also be sent to show thoughtfulness when someone is going through a private, difficult time. Whatever the occasion, whether a happy or sad time, the handwritten note is viewed as something special. Why? Because they are sent so infrequently.
We feel more comfortable texting, tweeting, skyping and typing. Those methods, as valuable as they are, can't replace the treasured handwritten note. So if the handwritten note stands out among messages and is so appreciated, why do we not send them more often? We may feel uncomfortable sending one for various reasons. My penmanship is illegible, or I can't keep straight lines. Maybe I don't know what stationery to use, or what if I'm not sure I'll say the right thing? If you've ever made any of those comments, you are correct that the message does need to have a nice appearance, and that words should be sincere.
You can be competitors in attracting new business, or in keeping current customers. Clients like to be reminded that you appreciate their business, and they feel special when you take the time to handwrite them a personal thank you note. It says that their business is important to you. A handwritten note will also make you stand out after a job interview. Sending an email thank you, which may get lost in the sheer number of email messages in a busy person's inbox, and a handwritten thank you note, will make you memorable because you took time for that extra personal step.
Handwritten notes will also help you build stronger relationships with coworkers, subordinates, superiors, and clients or customers. We hear a lot about the importance of having a high EQ or emotional quotient, which has a lot to do with our people skills and our relationships. People with high EQs are more likely to realize the importance of sending handwritten notes and developing strong relationships. So how should you go about writing that personalized note? First, give what you want to say some thought.
It doesn't have to be long. Three or four well thought through sentences may be enough. Second, don't just dash off one handwritten note to a client or customer and think your follow up is done. If you're trying to make a sale, chances are good, you may need to send three or four or five follow ups. That doesn't mean you will need to send a handwritten note each time. The occasional handwritten note supplements the phone calls, the emails, and even that text message that keep you and your product and services in your client or customer's mind.
But the well timed handwritten note carries a lot of power. Some companies require their employees to send personalized notes after meeting with each new contact. Third, make a timeline. The rule of thumb for sending a handwritten thank you note after an interview, for example, is within 24 hours. Like anything else, the longer we put it off, the less likely we are to do it. Even if the interview did not go well. Someone took the time to interview you, and deserves to be thanked.
No matter how impressive your credentials, that you sent a handwritten note will be even more memorable. So don't be afraid of writing that old fashioned note. Take the time to write handwritten notes thanking, congratulating, following up, showing your appreciation. Whatever the situation or the occassion, the time you spend writing them will be time well spent when you get return or new business, increase positive word of month comments, and build stronger relationships in your work environment.
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