The last hand-written note I ever received made such a deep impression on me that I kept it. It made such a deep impression because it was 2008, and I was caught up in the heady days of email, Twitter, and texting.
The power of the “handwritten”
So imagine my surprise and thrill when I got a hand-written envelope addressed directly to me that didn’t have the smell of an advertising or direct mail piece. Paper was passé in 2008; three years later, and it hasn’t gotten much better.
It was heavy card stock, cut to a third of a sheet of paper. The person who sent it had pre-printed her photo and contact information on it, making it her personal stationery, and written a note thanking me for our meeting.
Exuding your brand
As we immerse ourselves into the digital realm even further, the one-third sheet could make a huge difference in our networking and personal branding. While I haven’t used this myself, I’m still intrigued by the idea, and even have a template on my computer that I could print out right now. Here’s what I (and you) need to do to start using our own personalized stationery.
- Lay out an 8.5 x 11 page — landscape, not portrait — on your favorite page layout program. Set 3 equal columns so that when you cut it, the sheets are perfectly even — quarter-inch margins with half-inch gutters (space between the columns).
- At the top of each column, place your photo, phone number, email address, blog/website address, Twitter handle, LinkedIn address, plus any other important contact info. Don’t take up any more than two inches of that top space, including the margins.
- Send a PDF of the document to Fedex Office or other small job print house. You only need 100 sheets (300 cards) of 80 pound cardstock. Make sure they do the cutting too. Tell them you want equal thirds, but if they don’t quite line up, that’s okay, since you’re sending these one at a time. No one will know if one is slightly off from the others.
- Keep a small supply of #10 envelopes and some Forever stamps on hand (Forever stamps don’t have a specific price, so you can use them even after postage prices increase).
- Whenever you finish a meeting with someone, as soon as they (or you) leave, write them a quick thank you note, address the envelope, stick on the stamp, and drop it in the nearest mailbox right away. This works whether you’re meeting in a coffee shop, their office, your office, or at a conference.
The envelope will arrive within a day or two, and it will be a pleasant surprise for the person you met with. It will remind them of why they met with you, and will make a long lasting impression.
While you don’t necessarily have to do this for everyone you meet with, you should do it whenever you find someone you want to have a deeper, more significant relationship with. Just a quick 30 second note on a real piece of paper, in a real envelope, will carry so much more weight with the people you’re networking with than any email or tweet ever will.
Erik Deckers is the owner of Professional Blog Service, and the co-author of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself. His new book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing, which he wrote with Jason Falls, will be released in October 2011.