Being Thankful

This time of year is all about Thanksgiving.  Well, and Christmas, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  Giving thanks is an important part of everyone’s lives, but the busy schedules we all lead can leave us skipping over thankfulness altogether.  Similarly, when it comes to business school applications, clients often fail to remember to give appropriate thanks too.  Are you one of them?

It should really go without saying at all, but saying thank you, despite being reminded daily as a child growing up, is becoming a lost art.  Perhaps the rush-rush digital world we have become lends itself to skipping thanks, but this does not at all diminish the importance of handing it out.  Precisely because this common courtesy is becoming more rare, people more than ever take notice when thanks are given and received. 

If you want to impress your MBA admissions team, make sure you extend a simple thank you whenever you have a personal encounter with someone at your target school. 

Whether it be after an interview, school tour, or even a meaningful Q&A session, sending a note of thanks will not only be a positive commentary on your professionalism and thoughtfulness, but will also be a great way to remain top of mind with the adcom as they manage their way through hundreds of applications.  Receiving a note of thanks after an encounter reinforces the impression you made with them and forces their brain to retain information about you---they can’t help it!

Clients often inquire as to what’s the best way to thank someone. 

I am a still a big fan of the hand-written note, but because of the incredibly slow delivery compared to digital methods, you must be disciplined about getting these off immediately.  A good habit is to keep cards, envelopes and stamps in your briefcase or backpack, so you can literally send out thank you notes on the same day you have the encounter.  This can sometimes result in your note being received the very next day, depending on US mail logistics.

If you are not into the hand-written note thing, you are in luck, because email has long been an acceptable form of professional communication, and will be received well by your benefactor.  Because email is SO fast, however, you may want to wait until the next day to send it out, since sending it out immediately after the encounter will work against the psychology of recall. 

You actually want a little time to go by so the person you are thanking will be forced to actually pull your encounter from their long term memory, vs. having it still sitting in their short term memory. 

Unless you specifically exchanged texts with someone prior to your encounter or unless they specifically invite you to text with them, I would avoid using texts when sending thanks unless you also send a written note.  Just be careful about overdoing it.

Speaking of overdoing things, it is important to comment here on what would be construed as inappropriate thankfulness. 

I have heard stories of applicants who have sent gifts or other tangible articles of interest to people to show their thanks, but this is almost always a bad idea.  Sending a gift in a situation where someone is evaluating you and potentially included in a decision about your future is tantamount to a bribe and would be viewed as your trying to gain an unfair advantage, a big no-no in the admissions process.  Also avoid anything “cutesy” in your correspondences, such as the stories I heard about applicants putting glitter or perfume in the thank you envelope, which made a big impression on the adcom to be sure, but in a terribly negative way.  The three P’s of thank yous are to be Professional, be Proper and be Prompt.  Oh!  And don’t forget to ask for their business card!  It makes finding their correct address so much easier.

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