“Send a thank you note” is one of those pieces of common wisdom we always hear, yet an astonishingly low number of people actually do it.
Let me give a recent example of how a thank you note (even a digital one!) can shape someone’s view of you.
A Tale of Two Groups
Over the past few weeks I emailed the same message to two different groups.
Group A is generally earlier on in their careers. Group B is generally more established in their careers. The email content, open rates, and link clicks were the same, but what stuck out to me was how differently the two groups acted after logging in. Only 2.4% of group A sent me a note afterward, whereas 55.5% of group B sent me a note afterward.
Building Social Capital
The majority of group A read and archived the email. The majority of group B took the interaction as an opportunity to build some social capital.
I didnt expect a reply and I don’t think less of those who didn’t reply. I don’t want to be presumptuous and think I’m important enough to warrant a reply. Heck, there are dozens of emails I just read and archive without responding to every single day.
That said, those who did reply gained some social capital with me. They stick out because they did something very few others took the time to do: Send me a nice note. With a 30 second email, they changed the way I think about them. I haven’t met any of them in person and I don’t interact with them on a daily basis, but I’m willing to go out of my way for those who did actually reply the next time they need help with something.
There is a strong correlation between those who replied and career success (even early in their careers). They know that consistently doing little things to build social capital makes asks and connections easier in the future. Most in group B (and a few in group A) have learned this lesson and made doing little things like this part of their standard operating procedure.
Even though sending a thank you note is common wisdom, few people go through the trouble of actually doing it. With Praxis, I work with a lot of bright young people. Most, even the ones who excel, never send a thank you note. The minority who do stand out.
What opportunities are you missing because you didn’t take 30 seconds to say thanks?
A big thanks to Isaac Morehouse for regularly encouraging me to follow this principle and for his notes and suggestions on an early draft of this post.