Power of the “Thank You!”

"Thank You" can make a world of difference!

“Thank You” can make a world of difference!

“Thank you!”  Two words.  Two syllables.  Quite simple, really. Right?  Well, what’s happened to such as of late?  Is it of such simplicity that the value of its social currency has been diminished?  Now lost and forgotten no longer deemed as being a necessary part of our communication & interactions?

I write this post while it is relatively fresh, a live blip on my radar. Two blips actually and  I say this with no condemnation, no judgement, just an observation that as people navigate the world, they may be shorting themselves of quite a lot of opportunity. Doing so, merely because they did not demonstrate one of the ever present soft-skills bandied about so much in the job search punditry.  Saying ‘thank you’ used to be so common place, an exchange heard throughout the day, but now seemingly relegated to a blind omission that could be scuppering chances of making connections, getting assistance and/or generally receiving people’s support.

The first ‘blip’ that I am referring to being from a recent interaction I had with a relatively new graduate, class of 2013, when speaking at Alumni Weekend at the University of Massachusetts.  I was invited to be one of the presenters/speakers for a day of career packaging for the alumni/ae visiting for the weekend.  I was involved in two sessions; Job Search Strategies for New Graduates followed by a ‘speed dating’ type of event for quick career advice and questions. Both were fun and I think of some really good utility for the participants.  

At the end of the former, the Job Search Strategies workshop, I was approached and asked if I’d be willing to look at someone’s LinkedIn profile and give some feedback?  I said that I’d be happy to do so and when I had a chance, later that evening or the day next, I would look at it and write up some thoughts.  As requested, this person connected to me via LinkedIn both as a reminder and so that I could see the profile in full.  

Later that evening, as I said I would do, I went through this person’s profile and gave it a good read, looked at all the categories and listings and came up with a  few suggestions that, while already good, might simply make it a little stronger.  I did this while in the comfort of my home, in front of the television actually, so certainly not suffering by any means.  But, the fact of the matter is that I DID put an hour or so into fulfilling this request; examining the profile, thinking about what could make it stronger and better for ‘brand building’ and then wrote a long-ish email explaining my thoughts and recommendations.

Now granted, I’m not expecting accolades, applause or anything of the sort.  Also, it wasn’t any sort of paying thing, so remuneration was out of the question too.  I did, however, think that a simple, after-the-fact, ‘thank you’ for putting in the time to do so might come my way?  Just a note acknowledging my time and effort. Nothing. Crickets. Not a peep even saying that the email was received, much less any sort of ‘thank you’ or acknowledgement to its receipt much less benefit.

The second ‘blip’ is one where it DID make a difference, and an example of a big one at that.  A friend of mine is a dance professor, and a very good one, at a very prestigious liberal arts college.  She has many students that go through her ranks year to year and in this process good rapport is developed with many along the way.  In her role, and alongside the longevity of such, she has many contacts outside of the college and this makes her an invaluable resource for those students in the creative arts.  Not just dance, but her contacts are widespread in theatre, museums, publishing, television, etc.  The list is long and deep.  

Often, she will recommend a student to her outside connections as one that might be a good fit for an internship or off-campus experience, essentially putting her own reputation on the line.  This not being uncommon, offering up a student to an organization for a potential match.  But also, not uncommon is that after the fact, she’ll then tend to never hear from the student(s) again.  

However, one student that was recommended by her for an internship separated himself from the pack.  He ended up accepting an internship position upon her recommendation and it was a very good summer’s endeavor in the end.  What WAS different in this particular situation was that, after completing such, he made a point of sending her a nice hand-written note thanking her for making the connection, bridging the opportunity, and telling her what he did and learned. Wow!

Fast forward a year and she gets a call from one of her contacts who happens to work in the movie industry.  He is ‘needing someone to do the labor – set set-up, grabbing the coffee, schlepping materials, grunt work, nothing glamorous, no promises, just hard work.’  She thinks back to this one student who sent her the note and told her contact, “I think I may have just the guy you’re looking for…”  She makes the connection and he, now graduated, flies off to Australia to be the gopher.  He did such and did it well apparently as she received a call thanking her for the connection and was told ‘the guy worked out perfectly.’  Long story short, this guy went on to work on some major Hollywood productions and blockbusters, now having established himself in his unexpected, serendipitous new career!  A career that started with a simple, hand-written, “thank you.”  

A ‘thank you’ is such a simple way to say to someone, especially someone that’s gone out of their way to provide assistance, that you appreciate what they’ve done and want to acknowledge that fact. So simple. So effective.  So many opportunities perhaps missed but never known….


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *