Career Advice

4 Ways To Boost Others' Standings – And Your Own

Appreciation is a win-win strategy, whether you’re a rising star at a Fortune 500 company, an independent contractor who works from home or a small business owner with a small team.

The person who hears you say “thank you” wins, as he feels valued and recognized. You win because you deepen your connection with that person – and the next time you need something, he may give your request a speedy response.

Showing gratitude can pack a powerful wallop – in employee engagement, repeat customers and in producing business, prestige and praise. Study after study shows workers who feel appreciated and engaged are more likely to deliver great customer service and work harder.

So why wait for a holiday like Thanksgiving to give a little thanks and appreciation?

Here’s four approaches that work any day of the year:

Write a LinkedIn Recommendation

Give someone your backing. Agree to be a reference – and make it a glowing one – for your summer intern. Invite some new bloggers to contribute to your well-trafficked site. The person builds credibility and may land a job. You gain visibility and a reflected glory if that person’s career or blog takes off.

Send a Thank You Note Every Week

Or, jot one out every day – preferably on paper, but email is not so awful either. During the recession, Heidi Kallett, owner of The Dandelion Patch, four gift and stationery stores in suburban Washington, D.C., sent more than 100 to clients, vendors and people she met – and her sales rose strongly. Writing thank you notes is like exercise, and can become a habit that makes you happier, she told me for a Washington Post article last year.

Send a Congratulations on Your Promotion Card or Note

Send these to your friends or coworkers as they advance, but send a few to strangers too. You’ll read about their promotion in an industry e-letter, media article or elsewhere. When that person needs a new head of HR two months into their job, they may recall your kindness. Or if you are seeking freelance gigs, your congratulations could be followed up a day or two later with an inquiry about work – or a proposal for a project you could lead.  (This truly works; that’s how I first connected with my main editor at a major magazine.)

Create a “Hail the Heroes Wall” – Even if it’s Online

Create a brag list – and be sure to update it at least once a week. At Newsday, where I worked for seven years, a former editor had one, called the “wall of love,” where he posted the stories he really, really appreciated. At a small business, it might show photos of favorite customers savoring their catered parties or wearing the hats your company made. It could be a worker of the week – with a photo and description of something heroic or grand that they accomplished.  People like to be recognized publicly and they may tell their friends about your recognition, leading to some positive word of mouth for you or your company.

These approaches all give to you and your reputation as a thoughtful, helpful professional.

Of course, you can show appreciation by giving your staff a fruit basket or a gift card or a holiday bonus – and those certainly are welcome this time of year. But workers really crave thanks and praise – even more than they want a second helping of turkey and gravy on Thursday.