Employee engagement and appreciation have been hot topics for many years. Every week of the calendar year is now dedicated to an industry group or profession for recognition and appreciation. Large and small businesses also participate in a variety of appreciation events including customer, client and referral appreciation. But other important parts of your network may fall in the cracks that are benefitting your professional growth, integrity, and credibility.
Have you met someone for coffee to learn more about an organization, picked a colleague’s brain for tips on how to interview or spent 30 minutes asking advice on how to work with a manager? Then, it’s good general professional practice to show appreciation to those who have helped you along the way, especially those who have given time and effort for free. Yes, people are generous and certainly “give to grow” is an excellent business practice, but it is also important to maintain those relationships, keep them on a sturdy ground and show professionalism. Most people sincerely want and do help others. I rarely have anyone say “no” when I reach out. At the same, being cognizant of a little advice versus imposing on the professional livelihood or even business time of a colleague is important in building relationships and creating your own professional reputation.
In this day and age, when email is free, it’s easy to send off a quick thank-you email for a person’s time in sharing information, knowledge and expertise. At a minimum, your contact should receive an email. As you move forward with your career, it’s excellent practice to let your mentor, advisor, colleague or anyone else who has given you 15 minutes or more of time an acknowledgment of their efforts and the importance of their expertise to your career.
Five Ways to Show Professional Appreciation
1) A personalized thank you card. It’s hard to beat a hand-written card acknowledging their time and the value of the information.
2) Recommendation on social media including Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook information trading groups, a positive response on a LinkedIn discussion, etc. This is free and easy!
3) If working with someone outside your own organization, refer the person for paid referrals, speaking engagements, etc. Help them build their personal community.
4) Token gift card for coffee, Amazon, gas, Barnes and Noble, etc. or a small gift from a specialty store you know they enjoy such as chocolate, tea or specialty popcorn.
5) If meeting over a meal, offer to buy the meal. Yes, a gracious person will probably say “no”, especially if they are in a higher financial or leadership position or are inside your organization, but it’s good practice to offer to show you value their time.
I’m sure there are some readers who will be aghast at the mere mention of showing appreciation as mentoring and advising are expected as part of being a professional or leader in an organization. But let’s not confuse collegiality with taking advantage of another individual’s time and expertise. In essence, I agree, but I also recommend showing respect for time and expertise by acknowledging in some manner appropriate for the situation or contact.
Thoughts for the day:
Is your professional image one of generosity or “if it’s free, it’s me”?
Is your reputation one of appreciation or thoughtlessness?
Who has helped you for free in the last month and how have you personally acknowledged their assistance?
Who has been a key figure in your professional development in the last year and how can you reach out and show appreciation?