It is interesting to see how our society has relied on technology, computers and smartphones as our preferred method of communicating with others. Several months ago, I had the pleasure of working with an elderly client who rarely, if ever, accessed his emails. He explained that things are much easier to settle over the phone or in-person at a meeting. He complained that lawyers try too hard to make themselves sound smart by using big words and overly long sentences in emails and as a result, it would take him double the time to interpret the content of the email. This was a new experience for me as I am accustomed to communicating with our clients via email. What I think our society is forgetting as we grow more dependent on technology is the true value and importance of genuine face to face communication. More often than not, words used in an email or text message are often misconstrued by the person receiving the correspondence. Even if you don’t realize or intend it, the tone of an electronic message can come across as being stern, short, impatient, or just plain rude. On that same note, I think it is equally important to remember the value of a handwritten thank you note. I was raised to write a thank you note within five days after said event prompting a “thank you.” I buy several boxes of cards at a time and have them handy in my desk ready to write out a quick note when needed. You can send a thank you note for just about anything, for example, a note thanking a person for sending you a client, or taking you to lunch, or providing advice or mentorship to a young professional, or to one of your coworkers for assisting you with a recent project.
I truly believe these values, when utilized by a young professional, will greatly strengthen your chances of growing your professional network and will allow you to gain respect from seasoned professionals who appreciate the polite and courteous act of sending a handwritten thank you note or an invitation to lunch.
Challenge yourself by reaching out to a current or potential client and inviting them to lunch, after lunch, write a thank you note expressing your gratitude to that individual for taking the time to meet with you for lunch. It really is that simple, and it will do wonders for your professional development and help you build long-lasting, valuable client relationships.
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