Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Lesson from Hallmark

Never underestimate the power of, as my mother used to say, “two magic little words” : THANK YOU! Not only is it a polite way thing to do but, I guarantee, it will open doors.

Not only because a heartfelt “thank you” makes the person being thanked feel good, and it always feels good to make someone else feel good. But also because, sadly, people rarely do it, so thanking makes you stand out.

One day when visiting my friend Jeanne, I noticed that she had a box of blank notecards, imprinted on the front with one of her paintings, sitting on her desk. She also had a stack of them, written as thank-you notes, addressed and ready to be mailed to various curators and gallerists who had looked at her work at a recent portfolio event.

Realizing that Jeanne is a wise person, I promptly had a batch of my own blank cards printed up, to send as thank-you notes. Soon these little cards were out in the world, working magic.

The first person I wrote to was a consultant who had recently sold several of my paintings. Sure, she had taken 50% of the sale price, so she was just doing her job. But she had worked hard for that sale, schlepping the work, dealing with the nit-picky client, etc., etc. I appreciated what she had done for me, and I wanted to thank her for it.

Soon afterwards, I received a phone call from the consultant’s partner. She said she had seen my notecard sitting on her partner’s desk, just at a time when she had been thinking of artists to contact for an upcoming job. She said she had liked my image and decided to contact me.

Ultimately this contact led to the sale of 10 of my paintings to a well-known hotel in Boston. One little card had made the connection for me.

Another story, non-art-related but significant to this theme: in younger years, when I was looking for an office job, I applied for an opening as assistant secretary in one of the academic departments at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After my interview with the head secretary, I wrote her a thank-you note. I was later hired for the job, and promoted within several months, as the head secretary moved on to another position.

I later found out that more than 200 PEOPLE had applied for this job. A number of them had master’s degrees. That floored me, since I didn’t even have a bachelor’s degree at the time. But what really shocked me was that I was THE ONLY one out of all those applicants who had sent a thank-you note!!

Sure, there was something besides the thank-you note that got me the job. But the fact is, all those well-educated people hadn’t been smart enough to send one at all!

My recommendation for artists, and even would-be secretaries: if you don’t already have a supply of blank cards with your favorite painting on the front, have some printed up. And once you do, use them. Thank folks whenever they help you! You will definitely stand out in the crowd.

4 comments:

Diane McGregor said...

Great advice, Catherine! Thanks for the reminder!

Deborah S said...

Hey Catherine, when I applied for the curator position at the GPL, I was the only one of 6 applicants to send thank you notes to everyone who interviewed me. I was not, in my view, the most qualified applicant, but enthusiasm and a well-timed thank you note go a long way indeed.

Catherine Carter said...

Yes, you never know what one little notecard can accomplish!

Lynette Haggard said...

Nice thought, and good suggestions! Thanks.