When I was a kid, my mom would remind me, “Did you write Aunt Marion a thank you note yet?” Aunt Marion was my great aunt who lived in Maine. She sent my sister and I cards for our birthdays each year with $5 tucked inside. Even though it was the smallest birthday gift I received, my parents taught me to acknowledge it in the same way I did the bigger gifts.
Whether they intended to or not, my parents and Aunt Marion taught me what I believe is one of the greatest secrets to success:
Recognize small supportive gestures as much as you do the great ones.
One of my mentors, Susan McPherson, sent me a tweet that reminded me of how this factors into my fundraising career now:
To think of it another way: When you get a job interview, let’s assume you know well enough to write your interviewer a thank you note after. Did you also write a note to the person who got your foot in the door? If you’re fundraising and you score a new sponsorship, did you send a note to, or call, the person who was the catalyst for it all?
Recently, I had breakfast with the aforementioned amazing Susan, and she reminded me how much it meant to her when I wrote her a note last year, thanking her again for inviting me to a house party in 2012, where I had met Natalie, who later became the head of global impact at a company that had signed on to sponsor a She’s the First event. I knew meeting Natalie in person, within in Susan’s circle especially, was a huge reason in why she wanted to work with She’s the First.
Keep reminding people of the valued role that they play in your success.
This week, I brought on another new corporate partner, whose marketing director I had been introduced to two years ago. The day after getting the good news, I called Karen, our previous Board Chair, who had invited her to one of our fundraisers in 2012. Karen probably had forgotten about it, but I never did, and the acknowledgement made her day.
When you thank the people who were part of the pipeline of success, I bet they will: A) Be more inclined to help you in the future, because you remembered their small gesture in the same manner as if it was a great big one, and/or B) They’ll send a note to the mutual contact who just hired/funded you, telling them how delighted they are to hear the news, which makes your new business partner think even more highly of you.
A thank you could be as simple as an email, as short as an Oscars acceptance speech–although sometimes it’s even more special to place a good old-fashioned phone call or mail a card (I love the $1 ones in the checkout aisle at Trader Joe’s). Or, if you really want to be progressive, tweet them a Starbucks coffee.
Who can you unexpectedly thank for something awesome that happened to you this past week? Go forth and do it!