One of the very nicest parts of the holiday season is getting greeting cards, both email and physical, from the many people that I know.
The good ones are filled with newsy information about what the sender has been doing for the past 12 months and perhaps what their plans are for the year to come. The bad ones may as well be addressed as “To Whom It May Concern.” The last time I sent out physical holiday greeting cards was many years ago and I felt even back then that for the most part they were a waste of time if they really weren’t personal.
So, with only a few days left to send out “holiday greetings,” I thought I would share with you some of my feelings as to how to make them more personal.
I know everyone will be surprised when I suggest that email is just fine. Almost all of my communications these days come in that way and it allows me to immediately write back and say thanks.
What may not be so obvious and what might seem crude is the need to include your FULL contact information somewhere in your message. You would be surprised at the number of people you would like to hear from in 2017 who don’t know how to reach you. Are you really sure everyone knows where you are currently working, where you currently live, what phone numbers you prefer and what email addresses you want them to use? If it is over 20%, I would be totally shocked. I’m sure there are exceptions. Some of you actually use an outgoing signature and keep in touch at other times during the year, but trust me, 80% of humanity that is relevant to you and your career doesn’t know how to reach you. Take a risk and allow them the opportunity to update their address books.
One of the reasons I beat the drum about outgoing signatures so much is that is how I keep our membership directories up to date. EVERY message I get that includes one is checked against our “bible.”
I have saved the most important part of your holiday missives for last. It is the need to personally address any message you send out specifically to the recipient. And, in today’s email environment there is honestly no good excuse to not doing so.
Let’s assume that you know 100 very important people. Put a clock on it. Even if you don’t have access to a mailing program that allows you to do a mail merge, you can easily send out 30 largely boilerplate messages in an hour. Ask yourself if it is worthwhile to invest 4 hours in sending out personalized messages? (I do like feeling special.)
When I see no greeting and notice that the message I am receiving has been sent to a blind courtesy copy list, I frankly find it offensive. (Don’t they know I’m Chairman of The FENG? Heck, we’re the largest networking group of senior financial officers in the entire universe!)
Please know that ALL of your friends would like to feel important at this time of year, or at any time of year for that matter. A well written boilerplate letter with a few simple fill in the blanks will go a long way to making your next phone call well received.
Make it personal, and who knows, if you tell them how to reach you they might even call or write you first next time.