In every walk of life, people like to be thanked — it shows that someone has recognized their efforts. Beyond birthdays and school gatherings, a thank-you letter goes a long way in the business community toward building goodwill and cementing relationships. A concise and genuine thank you note shows you to be a thoughtful and capable person—someone worthy of doing business with.
We’ve put together a few tips and guidelines for you to get the most out of your thank you letters.
When to write a thank you letter
No matter the case, you want to write your thank you note as soon as possible after the event ends. If you thank someone for something small they did 2 months ago, they’ll likely just think you’re weird.
Here are some normal situations to send a thank you note to a business contact:
- Business cooperation: New partners instead of new competitors – this is a good reason to express your gratitude. A thank you letter for collaboration also registers your business and your name with a new partner.
- A referral: Besides appreciating their help, you can encourage this person to continue referring prospective customers to you.
- Attending an important meeting: Let them know their opinions and knowledge were helpful.
- The holidays: The best time of year, it’s a great occasion to thank partners for their cooperation and to express interest in future deals or possibilities.
- Randomly: Thank-you notes out of the blue are best if your business relationship is long-term and casual to some extent. Regardless, people will appreciate the no-strings-attached compliment.
How to write a thank you letter: step by step
The key to a good thank you note is to be genuine in your emotion. If your tone is flat or you seem too focused on future opportunities, the effect won’t register—you’ll just come off as selfish.
Otherwise, the structure of a thank you note is straightforward and favors conciseness.
Here are the general elements:
It’s essentially a must to use the recipient’s name in the greeting. If you can’t be bothered to address them direct why write a note? For the salutation, using the word “dear” is standard and adds the appropriate level of formality to almost all business letters.
Avoid “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Madam or Sir” greetings at all costs. They make your thank-you note seem distant—if you don’t know the person’s name, find it out somehow!
The reason for thanks
Lead-ins like “I would like to thank you…,” “I’m just writing to express my appreciation…” are suitable for a formal thank you letter, albeit a bit clichéd. Feel comfortable tweaking this a bit to fit your situation.
In less formal cases, make your opening sentence direct and simple: “Thank you for your help.” Of course, informal thank you notes are rare these days (since you’d likely just message them or tell them in-person).
When speaking frankly about why you’re thanking them, don’t mention money even if it was involved.
For financial deals, terms like “Thank you for your support”, “We appreciate your generosity” suit better and are the phrasing most charities and non-profit organizations use for donations.
Continue your gratitude with a few sentences about the importance of whatever happened between you and the recipient: “your expertise gave me a clear understanding of the department’s KPI”, “it was an honor to work with you,” etc.
Try your best to make this actually sound personal—if you’re thank you note reads like it’s a stock note, that defeats the purpose.
The recipient should feel it was their specific time and/or contribution that you value, and not just anyone who was willing to help. You aren’t sending these out in bulk, so take the time to make it individualized.
Compliment, but don’t flatter
If you are not sure of how appropriate it is to give a specific compliment, avoid it.
Being nice and making it clear that you appreciate the person is a part of the thank you note’s existence, but if you are too complimentary it may come off as brown-nosing or sarcasm. It’s best to use short phrases such as: “we greatly appreciated your presence” or “your contribution to PROJECT 123 cannot be put into words.”
Refer to the future
Before closing a thank-you note, express your desire to continue the business connection. While this mention should be short and quick, it does show you are serious about your trade, and not just happy to be at the big boys’ table, so to speak.
If you already have ideas for a future cooperation, mention it without going into details. “Our company is going to hold IT workshops and would like you to join” — this is a good hint that you value their abilities while demonstrating your confidence in your own work.
In most cases “Best regards” and “Sincerely” are appropriate salutations. You don’t want to get too cute with a salutation unless you know the person well.
If you prepare a thank you note on paper, always sign your name with a pen. You may also include your title or position if the letter is formal.
Here is an example with a clear structure:
Dear Mr. Adams,
I want to sincerely thank you for the referrals you’ve sent our way lately. They have helped our business immensely and it’s great knowing that we have such an accomplished businessman in our corner. It’s truly been a pleasure.
We’ll keep you updated on any changes or upgrades to our services. We won’t let you or the customers you referred down!
Thank you once again.
Mr. Roger Waters
Tips for writing a business thank-you letter after a meeting
The exact nature of any thank you letter will come down to the formality of the relationship.
If business partners see each other quite often, an informal thank-you note with some light-hearted joking would be a good way to show your appreciation during a work process. This can be through either an email or a hand-written note.
For more formal situations, it’s better to send a hand-written note; an email is likely to get buried in the recipient’s inbox.
No matter the formality however, thank-you notes should be short and to-the-point—this is business, and time is money; if the note is more than half a page, you’re not doing it right.
Your note’s format is the same as other typical business letters. Names, titles, and addresses for both sides, formal greetings and closings, the writer’s signature — all these formal specifics should be included. If you are writing on behalf of a company, typing the note on the organization’s letterhead is a savvy, professional choice.
As with any official business communication, make sure your grammar and spelling are perfect—sending something with improper English will make a worse impression than sending nothing will.
Here is another sample of a formal thank you:
Dear Mr. Tyler,
I would like to thank you for taking the time to meet with me and my colleagues yesterday. I appreciate you sharing your knowledge about the roles and responsibilities required for a project like ours. Your presentation contained several innovative ideas that we are now considering for our project’s structure.
You have our sincere appreciation and we hope to continue working with you in the future. With your permission, I will inform you about our next meeting.
We look forward to seeing you there.
Mr. Zachary Perry
This may seem like a lot of conventions to follow, but all in all the process is pretty simple. You’re thankful for the opportunity, so let the other person know it with a short note. In today’s business environment, politeness and professionalism go a long way.
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