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Have you ever gone above and beyond to help someone? Perhaps you spent two hours on the phone with them offering advice in your area of expertise. Or maybe you connected them to a valuable resource or person to help them with their career, relationship, or health.

Sometimes, you may even rearrange your schedule and cancel existing commitments to help someone during a time of great need. In the moment, the person you are helping may say a quick “thanks!” but after that, you never hear from them again.

This happened to me last year. A colleague who was unemployed reached out to me. She had been job-hunting for months and was stressed out, frustrated, and losing hope. Every day she’d been sending out her resume, but getting no response. She asked for my help, and I ended up connecting her to the president of a major company looking to hire someone just like her. Two months later, she got a senior level position with a six-figure salary!

I found out about this when she announced her new job on Facebook. While I was excited to hear the news, I felt a little unappreciated and forgotten about. In fact, I only heard from her several months later when she had another favor to ask of me.

This happens all the time. We get busy and forget to thank people for their help. But gratitude is so important.

When we forget to thank someone, they feel less motivated to help us again.

But when we do thank someone in a thoughtful, heartfelt way, it makes the person feel deeply appreciated and wanting to help you even more.

Here are five specific ways to express gratitude this holiday season and beyond:

1. Send an email.

Just sending a short, thoughtful email is something we all can make the time for. You can make your “thank you” truly felt by the recipient when you share how specifically they have helped you.

As an example, you could say: “It was great to meet you last week! Thank you for recommending that book to me—I bought it right away! I’m already halfway through, and it’s amazing. I can already see how I can apply some of these insights to my career.”

Share what impacted and moved you and the results of putting their advice into action. This allows the recipient to know the difference they have made in your life, which makes the act of giving even more fulfilling to them!

2. Handwritten card or note sent by postal mail.

I heard a statistic recently that, nowadays, only 3% of mail is handwritten. The rest is bills or junk mail! The receiver of a beautiful handwritten note or card will feel so special and excited to open up a real piece of thoughtful mail, knowing the time and effort you put into writing a note by hand and mailing it the old-fashioned way. It shows someone how much you care.

3. Take them out for a nice lunch or dinner.

Another way to show your gratitude is to take someone out to lunch or dinner. You could reach out and say, “I want to thank you for all the ways you have supported me this year. I would love to take you out to your favorite restaurant. It’s on me!” Many people are too busy for coffee dates in the middle of the day, but taking someone out to a fancy dinner is an unexpected treat that will definitely make you stand out.

4. Thank them publicly.

We all have our own public platforms where we share information—whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, a blog, or newsletter. You can use any of these platforms to publicly express gratitude toward someone who has made an impact on you. I love when someone posts something nice about me on Facebook or promotes one of my articles. Not only does it feel special to get recognized publicly, but you are also introducing the recipient to potential new fans or friends.

5. Send a gift.

Sending a gift is another way to give back to someone who has given to you. A client of mine gave someone who referred a client to her a Starbucks gift card and said, “Coffee is on me for the month.” The person receiving the gift loved that!

Another example is a woman who I recently helped who sent me a card, a book, and gorgeous bouquet of flowers. It was such a sweet gesture that made me feel so appreciated. As a result, she is always on my radar, and I want to continue to help her.

And if you don’t know what kind of gift to give, you could ask that person’s friends or even colleagues or assistant. You could say, “I’d like to give Jane a thoughtful gift. What does she like? Here are a few ideas I have.”

This holiday season is the perfect time for you to reach out to the colleagues, clients, mentors, and friends who have made a difference in your life this year and to tell them exactly how they have done so.

Leave a comment below and share your most thoughtful, creative ideas on how you are going to give back this holiday season!


Selena Soo is a business and publicity strategist for visionary entrepreneurs, experts, and authors. Join Selena’s newsletter to learn how to get known and stand out as a leader in your field, so you can make a bigger impact in the world.

*Image courtesy of Shereen M via Compfight cc.