Grandma 101: Human Connection Transcends Social Media,The Art of Hand-Written Notes in the Digital Age

From a young age, my Grandma, like many others, encouraged a hand-written note for most life events - to show gratitude, sympathy, thoughtfulness, celebration, and a host of additional emotions and occasions. At her encouragement, this art- form was used to connect with family and friends, both locally and across the miles.

As an attorney, this practice continued. Cards and tokens of remembrance were sent in celebration of bar passages, trial victories and partnerships, to lift up mentees struggling with the profession, and to remind others that they brighten this world by the positive change they effect every day. They were sent out of genuine concern and love for others. An unintended consequence is that they made my practice of law successful. The following is why.

Social media and electronic communications are powerful tools for broadening communications and superficially learning about others, an alternative news source. They are not effective ways to deepen worthwhile relationships. Those require genuine human connection. In-person meals, phone calls, hand-written notes and other actions that allow meaningful one-on-one interaction are the gateway to the soul, what is required to truly bond with another.

Beyond enriched relationships, the influence of more deeply connecting with others is evidenced by a colleague who religiously sends five hand-written notes per day to empower and inspire others. She is the #1 salesperson in her region at her company, a title held for four consecutive years.

To experience how letter-writing can enrich your life and practice, consider the following:
Keep a Stash
Letter-writing is easiest when you have a supply on hand. Stock-up on a core group of “occasion” cards, including birthday, sympathy, congratulations, wedding, baby, and thinking of you. Expense is not necessary; bulk-rate and 99 cent cards work just as well as bedazzled messages. The focus is outreach to inform the recipient of your care and appreciation. 

Make an Appointment & Fill the Crevices
Extra-curricular tasks fall by the wayside when treated as such. Like client work, connecting with others is critical to a thriving law practice. To integrate both, a colleague calendared a two-hour appointment each Friday during which marketing activities were completed. The appointment was valued like an important client meeting, and only missed in case of actual emergency. Also strategically fill small gaps of time – instead of logging onto social media when you have a few extra minutes, use that time to complete a note or two.

Strategically Use Social Media
Like human connection, an online presence contributes to a successful law practice; it simply is not a replacement. To achieve balance, determine the appropriate amount of time to use social media and limit your online participation to that daily period. When online, critically analyze your contacts’ lives and what offline follow-up communication is appropriate. For example, an online posting regarding a promotion is a wonderful opportunity to send a hand-written congratulatory note celebrating that achievement.

Include Your Call to Action
If the purpose of the note is to further your relationship with the recipient, inform the recipient that you will follow-up in the coming weeks regarding connecting for breakfast/lunch/etc. If the recipient reaches out to you first, great! If the recipient simply receives your card, you can follow-up regarding a subsequent meeting without feeling awkward.

Avoid Using “I”
The recipient is the cornerstone of your communication, not you. “Meeting with you was fabulous,” is more genuine and impactful than “I enjoyed our meeting.” Both sentences attempt the same message; the former achieves celebration of the recipient, your true intention. “I” is rarely needed, and should be used sparingly.

Happy letter writing and best wishes spreading your sunshine through authentic connections with others!

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