Why Expressing Gratitude Matters: 5 Ways to Say “Thank You” to Colleagues, Mentors, and Friends

Posted on by Selena Soo, in 'Networking, Personal'

Have you ever gone above and beyond to help someone?

Perhaps you spent two hours on the phone with them offering advice in your area of expertise. Or maybe you connected them to a valuable resource or person to help them with their career, relationship, or health.

Sometimes, you may even rearrange your schedule and cancel existing commitments to help someone during a time of great need. In the moment, the person you are helping may say a quick “thanks!”, but after that, you never hear from them again.

This happened to me last year. A colleague who was unemployed reached out to me. She had been job-hunting for months and was stressed out, frustrated, and losing hope. Every day she’d been sending out her resume, but getting no response.

She asked for my help, and I ended up connecting her to the president of a major company looking to hire someone just like her. Two months later, she got a senior level position with a 6-figure salary!

I found out about this when she announced her new job on Facebook. While I was excited to hear the news, I felt a little unappreciated and forgotten about. In fact, I only heard from her several months later when she had another favor to ask of me.

This happens all the time. We get busy and forget to thank people for their help. But gratitude is so important.

When we forget to thank someone, they feel less motivated to help us again. But when we do thank someone in a thoughtful, heartfelt way, it makes the person feel deeply appreciated and wanting to help you even more.

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Here are five specific ways to express gratitude this holiday season and beyond:

1. Send an email

Just sending a short, thoughtful email is something we all can make the time for. You can make your “thank you” truly felt by the recipient when you share how specifically they have helped you.

As an example, you could say: “It was great to meet you last week! Thank you for recommending that book to me — I bought it right away! I’m already half-way through and it’s amazing. I can already see how I can apply some of these insights to my career.”

Share what impacted and moved you, and the results of putting their advice into action. This allows the recipient to know the difference they have made in your life, which makes the act of giving even more fulfilling to them!

2. Handwritten card or note sent by postal mail

I heard a statistic recently that nowadays, only 3% of mail is handwritten. The rest is bills or junk mail! The receiver of a beautiful handwritten note or card will feel so special and excited to open up a real piece of thoughtful mail.

The fact that you took the time and effort into writing a note by hand and mailing it the old-fashioned way shows someone how much you care.

3. Take them out for a nice lunch or dinner

Another way to show your gratitude is to take someone out to lunch or dinner. You could reach out and say, “I want to thank you for all the ways you have supported me this year. I would love to take you out to your favorite restaurant. It’s on me!”

Many people are too busy for coffee dates in the middle of the day, but taking someone out to a fancy dinner is an unexpected treat that will definitely make you stand out.

4. Thank them publicly

We all have our own public platforms where we share information — whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, a blog, or a newsletter. You can use any of these platforms to publicly express gratitude towards someone who has made an impact on you.

I love when someone posts something nice about me on Facebook or promotes one of my articles. Not only does it feel special to get recognized publicly, but you are also introducing the recipient to potential new fans or friends.

5. Send a gift

Sending a gift is another way to give back to someone who has given to you. A client of mine gave someone who referred a client to her a Starbucks gift card and said, “Coffee is on me for the month.” The person receiving the gift loved that!

Another example is a woman who I’d recently helped who sent me a card, a book, and gorgeous bouquet of flowers. It was such a sweet gesture that made me feel so appreciated.ย 

If you don’t know what kind of gift to give, you could ask that person’s friends or even colleagues or assistant. You could say, “I’d like to give Jane a thoughtful gift. What does she like? Here are a few ideas I have.”

The holiday season is the perfect time for you to reach out to the colleagues, clients, mentors, and friends who have made a difference in your life this year, and to tell them exactly how they have done so.ย 

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12 Responses to “Why Expressing Gratitude Matters: 5 Ways to Say “Thank You” to Colleagues, Mentors, and Friends”

  1. Karen W

    Love the advice Selena! I’d actually written thank you cards to some of my friends and mentors but haven’t gotten around to mailing them! I will do that next week (just emailed them to get their mailing addresses ๐Ÿ™‚ )

  2. Today

    Not really a creative idea but this morning I emailed someone who gave me a free phone session (which he offered on his own after I continued to show interest in his work). I wished him a happy Thanksgiving, shared quick news about me, and linked him to a book and asked him whether he read it. I thought the book was relevant to his work and thought he’d be interested. If he says no, I plan asking if he’d like a copy, sort of as a gift for the holidays.

  3. Teresa Pangan

    Selena, love the focus on taking the time to thank peope. Whatever you do, thanking someone helps you stand out and shows your genuine appreciation for their gesture. Another idea is make digital scrapbooks or cards through Smilebox and send those either electronically or get them printed at local drugstore or Sams and send. via postal mail.

    • Selena Soo

      I’d never heard of Smilebox before. Thanks for introducing it to me Teresa!

  4. Nick Miller

    Selena what better way to answer your question than to really show you?

    You are freaking awesome! I found out about you by reading your blog post on “How to get the attention of your favorite expert.” It helped me and reassured me on some personal theories I had myself.

    It moved me so much I downloaded the course you gave away, and will start following through the steps tomorrow. Will share the results with you periodically, I promise.

    Thanks ‘Soo’ much.

    • Selena Soo

      Hi Nick, you’re awesome! I’m so glad you enjoyed the article and am reading my e-book. Wishing you so much luck & have a happy new year!

  5. Reader

    Hi Selena, thanks for this awesome blog post! I am a huge fan of yours and share your blog updates via twitter.

    I was networking pretty heavily until I landed a job — once I got the job I thought I’d settle into it for a bit (I didn’t like it at first) before I reached out with thank yous. It’s now been six months and I feel a little embarrassed I’ve let things go on this long! Any suggestions on how I could reach out? Thank you!

    • Selena Soo

      It’s never too late to say thank you! You could position it more as an update, vs. an announcement, now that you’re 6 months into the job. Share specifics about what you like about the job, as well as how the advice you were given was helpful. Good luck! (And thank you so much for sharing my blog updates!)

Selena Soo