The Business Thank You Note

iStock_000007934114XSmallYears ago when I went to NYU to earn an MBA, I took many courses in finance and marketing. I honestly hardly remember anything I learned, and since it was more than 35 years ago that’s understandable.

But I do remember one class in a writing course, called “Letters you don’t have to write”. The basic premise was simple. You don’t have to write these letters, but you are very wise to do so. The thank you note was the top of this list.

In today’s busy business world there are fewer thank you notes written than ever and 90% of all of them come in the form of an email. Email is a wonderful thing (sometimes) but lousy for expressing personal emotion.

When is it appropriate in business to send a thank you note? Any time, especially some of the following:

  • After attending a job interview.
  • After receiving a promotion
  • After a business lunch, dinner or party.
  • When someone has given you their time and advice.
  • When a manager or professor has supplied you with a reference letter.
  • A co-worker who has given you a gift

Here’s my strong advice. Take 5 minutes and do the following:

1. Hand write a short thank you note. If you have personal note cards, great. If not buy some “Thank you” cards at a CVS and keep them hand

2. Address the issue directly in the note

a)      Thank you for your advice about x…

b)      I am very excited about the opportunity at your company

c)      I always appreciate your business & support

d)      You are a wonderful friend and I appreciate your help

3. Keep it short & simple. Less is more

Look for opportunities to thank those who help you. Don’t delay. Put it in the mail. A thank-you note is one of the lost traditions that should be “found” again. I guarantee you that the receiver will appreciate it and it will also remind you that success in business and life is built on the support and kindness of others. Be sure to thank them appropriately.

More Strumings


  1. It’s sad that people need to be constantly reminded to write. And to thank.
    But so it is. I’m with you 100% on this, and have devoted an entire microblog to letters real and imagined.

  2. Beth Frances Rosoff Strum says:

    excellent advice with a smart to do list.

  3. Rich Riley says:

    Tremendous insight on something that carries great meaning but becoming increasingly rare.

  4. Michel Couturier says:


    WOW! I took that same class, and remind our staff on a regular basis the importance of the “letters and the emails you don’t have to write!




  5. Kirk Dye says:

    I have always heard that writing notes like this is the thing to do. And I do handwrite something if appropriate. My problem is that my handwriting is awful and I wonder if that is what they remember about me. Any suggestions (other than take a handwriting class)?

    • Lonny Strum says:


      A written note should be short. So write very slowly and clearly. And yeah, a handwriting class might be worthwhile.

  6. Lonny Strum says:

    Michel– It’s a small world and it truly was a valuable class.

  7. Devan says:

    Love this – and you’re right, less is more. I think we think handwriting a thank you note will take time, but really all you need is a couple sentences – if that.

    I think it’s especially powerful for external communications with clients and customers. A thank you note goes a long way! There’s actually a really neat story my colleague has about when he bought a bag online – they actually sent a handwritten note thanking him for the order and for being a returning customer. I’ve never heard of that happen to anyone before –

Leave a Reply to Michel Couturier