The Lost Art of the Handwritten Note

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I am an introvert and have never been a hard prospector. Despite this, I built a billion-dollar solo advisory practice in 10 years, although I did have a running start as a decent broker. Other advisors ask me about my secret weapons, and here's one.

Along with learning the importance of saying "yes ma'am” and “no sir," my southern upbringing taught me the value of a handwritten note. This art form has succumbed to the overpowering convenience of email. But the two are not interchangeable. Mastering the handwritten note is a unique weapon of the prodigious user.

These notes create a positive lasting impression for several reasons. They are unique. In a world where we all struggle to stand out due to technology's leveling quality, notes easily make you memorable because no one sends them anymore. It's a powerful medium for expressing affirmation. When you comment on the cool tie the recipient was wearing or the funny joke they told, people will read the compliment over and over again to hear it in their minds as a source of personal affirmation. If the comment is genuine and not flattery, it's hard to go wrong. Subconsciously, people will want another note, so they are more apt to repeat the behavior because of your encouragement. This is critical for the connectors you know.

I use cards most often to say thanks for a referral or introduction. I track my list of prior recipients on the Notes app on my phone. This provides me a record since I lose track otherwise. It also helps make sure I don't overdo it on any one person and allow the love to be spread more evenly.

I also queue up recipients by keeping notes on my phone of things I appreciate that others have provided. It could be picking up the tab for dinner or inviting me to go skeet shooting. I recently sent a thank you note to a client for the offer of letting me use his plane. I also sent a note to a client's six-year-old daughter thanking her for the crayon painting she made for me while I was at her home visiting her parents.