By Bryan Kramer | Business, Featured

How a Surprise Thoughtful Personal Note Can Deepen Connections in a Remote or Hybrid Work World

If a Surprise Note Means So Much to a Friend, What Does It Mean to your Business Relationships and Overall Connections?

Much research has been done about the effect of sending out a surprise note or gift to a friend. What that research tells us is that the person on the giving end doesn’t realize is how much such a small gesture could mean to the person on the receiving end.

What Peggy Liu, Ph.D., the University of Pittsburg says is that most people are social and enjoy making connections.

“There is much research showing that maintaining social connections is good for our mental and physical health. However, despite the importance and enjoyment of social connection, our research suggests that people significantly underestimate how much others will appreciate being reached out to.”

In a series of experiments involving nearly 6,000 adults, researchers found that, in general, people underestimated the value of “reaching out” to someone in their social circle they hadn’t contacted in a while.

Recipients, it turned out, appreciated the small gesture — often just a note to say hi — more than the sender anticipated.

Experts said the findings aren’t necessarily surprising: It feels good, after all, to know someone is thinking of you and cared enough to check-in.

But researcher Peggy Liu said it’s interesting that the person who is reaching out often underestimates the impact doing so can have.

So that’s all well and good for your high school friend that you haven’t talked to in years or the neighbor down the street who has gone through some tough times.

But how does that equate to your business relationships?


A Human Approach to Your Connections

In this age of virtual business meetings and remote workers, staying connected to those you do business with can take a little more effort, but can be well worth the time spent. This spreads across all levels of your business, including customers, suppliers, and employees.

Connections aren’t made by sending out blast emails or making announcements on social media. Connections are made and relationships are cultivated by adding personal touches and letting your associates know that you are thankful for them or were thinking about them.

Connections are made and relationships are cultivated by letting people know you were thinking about them.Click To Tweet


Employees may be one of the most overlooked relationships that can be strengthened by personally reaching out. Even a short note thanking them for a job well done is more appreciated than you might think. And recognition does not have to be limited to one event or accomplishment.

Personal recognition in the form of a small gift just to let the employee know that they are important to you. It’s the element of being unexpected that brings enjoyment.


Customers can be a little wary of gifts, so forego presents and send a card or note just letting them know you have enjoyed working with them. Send a clipping on a topic that you may think will interest them. Don’t try to sell them your latest news item or include any type of advertising. Just send a short, non-salesy note that they will appreciate on a personal level.


Your suppliers probably think that they should be trying to send gifts and gratitude your way so they may be very surprised if you drop them a note letting them know that you appreciate their service or product.

It is probably not difficult to find material that interests you both, so let them know you are thinking about them.

Why Your Connections and Building Relationships are More Important Than Ever

The industry has changed, along with the way we interact, where we work, and where our competitors live. Unlike even a decade ago, it is common for people to work from their homes with only a computer and a phone for interaction. Orders are often placed online with chatbots answering customers’ questions.

Mandated quarantines have given way to a society that has begun to value isolation. Social interaction has become reduced, partly from necessity, partly because it just became easier that way. Staying connected with your business associates and surprising them with a short note or small gift, not only lets them know you are thinking about them but also gets them to think about you.

That doesn’t mean they are going to award you that large contract, but it might mean that they will think of you next time a bid comes up. It may not mean that they won’t take the new, higher-paying position, but they may recommend you if their friend is seeking employment.

We all require social interaction to some extent. That doesn’t mean everyone likes to gossip at the water cooler or gather for team-building exercises. It simply means that to maintain business relationships, you should put out that little bit of extra effort that it takes to strengthen and grow your connections.

Simple Ways to Stay Connected

Each connection will be different and each relationship can be nurtured in various ways. A few ways to start may be:

Short thank you notes are a great way to revive a relationship that has distanced.

  • Thank you for your idea!
  • I appreciate your hard work!
  • Thanks for working with me!

Show your colleague that you are thinking of them with a note or clipping.

  • Print off a clipping of the newest thing to hit your industry.
  • Tell them you saw or heard something that they may find interesting.
  • Let them know in a short note that you are thinking of them because…..

Send a small gift.

  • Choose a small plant that says something like ‘Thanks for helping us grow’
  • Keep the gift small and personal such as a snapshot of the two of you in a small frame.
  • Send a small gift that represents their industry.

The Surprise Could Deepen Your Business Relationship

Remember the last time you got a card or letter in the mail from an old friend? Remember that feeling of being valued and appreciated? That is exactly the experience you want your business associates to have.

Connections that are distant, in time or space, can be cultivated, maintained, and deepened by just putting a little time and effort into taking this step. Make it part of your routine.

Try connecting to someone every week or every month. You will ultimately enjoy the surprise nearly as much as the recipient. Want other tips? Check out our Four Steps to Stronger Relationships.

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