These days, people are losing sight of the important things that hold businesses together. Many people, especially new managers and salespeople, view business opportunities as something they can get out of a relationship. They forget that, like any other bond, a relationship flourishes with some give and take.
The #1 Rule
There may be a ton of smaller etiquette rules to follow, but there is one major principle that should guide your career:
If someone does something nice for you or your company, track down the person responsible and express gratitude.
This rule should not come as a surprise. After all, HR managers and career guides advise anyone looking for a job to email thanks to those that interview them. Remember when grandma withheld presents that one Christmas because you or your siblings forgot to thank them for a gift? Business relationships work the same way.
Always keep this in mind, too: gratitude is not about avoiding a passive aggressive conflict; it is about going out of your way to tell someone else they performed well at their job. A consultant should be thanked for positive results. A simple phone call will delight the reporter that wrote you a great column, and it will likely invite more in kind.
Gratitude Bolsters Brand Identity
Whether you are senior executive of strategy for a major corporation or an associate dishwasher for a restaurant chain, you are an ambassador of your company’s brand. The method you employ to say thank you can be reflective of the brand. For instance, a toyshop might want to send a gag gift, while a Hallmark employee will mail a card from their best product line.
Just expressing gratitude is enough to improve your brand, since branding is all about perception. Those that recognize your company as a positive community force will spread the word that you care. Everyone is familiar with Jared, the jewelry chain. Their employees write thank you cards to customers and B2B representatives from their major suppliers who make large purchases. There is a reason people love shopping there.
When to Say Thank You
There are a few situations when it is not only appropriate to express thanks, but expected.
- Referrals. If a client brings in another customer, especially one that promises to bring long-term business, they deserve a card. Think of it this way: your client is essentially generating leads like an unpaid salesperson. Who really works for free?
- Job Interviews. We mentioned thanking those that facilitated the interview. What about the person that got you the interview in the first place? Did you know someone on the inside?
- Media-Related Activity. Media interviews, PR coverage, columnists, and photographers (in most cases) improve a company’s relationship with the public. Always go out of your way to show gratitude, and more will follow close behind.
- Introductions. Whether you are giving a speech or you are introduced by another friendly face in the industry, they are making you look good and depending on the situation, landing you new clients. Even a simple email is enough.