I’ve written many times in the past about how networking is not just for success in our professional lives. In fact, with Valentine’s Day just past, it’s a good time to reflect on how that same web of relationships which helps us bring in profitable referrals can also smooth over rough spots in our personal lives. Some of the same techniques we use to strengthen our professional relationships can also perform similar miracles with our personal ones.

One technique that works particularly well in my experience is the Gratitude Note.

Of course, your business connections love this. Sending them a handwritten letter expressing your appreciation for how they helped you not only validates what they do to themselves, but, with your permission, they can show this note to others as a testimonial. If it works that well with a formal business connection, how much better do you think it would work with someone who actually loves you?

This applies to everyone, but I think guys in particular are a bit challenged when it comes to expressing our deepest feelings for those who are closest to us. Not me, of course. I am completely in touch with my feelings.

Why do I hear laughing?

Anyway, the same format which makes the Gratitude Note a powerful business tool also makes it work in more personal communications. At the beginning, all we have to do is cast our minds back to before we had met this wonderful person in our lives. Now, of course we were complete human beings, but there must have been areas in our lives that weren’t quite as good as they are right now. For many of us, we are much better off right now. Write about those areas which could have been better (or the ones that really stunk).

In the next section write about some or all of the things they have done for you which have changed your world for the better. Emotions are good here. In fact, emotions are good in all sections of this letter. Everyone thrives on emotion, even us guys. Phrases such as “You made me feel safe when you…”, “I felt so proud when you…”, and “I know I will never feel lost again because you…” are all appropriate here.

Finish off with how wonderful your life is now and say “Thank you” for helping to make it all possible. The format is actually fairly simple. All you need is the courage to dig deep in your heart and reveal those emotions.

Oh, and you don’t have to wait until next Valentine’s Day to give your loved one a Gratitude Note. Just as appropriate would be your anniversary, their birthday, Christmas, Memorial Day, Flag Day, or Tuesday.

Just in case you didn’t get it, there is never a bad time to tell someone how important they are to you.

Image credit: Bernhard Aichinger