I am a professional speaker; I travel a lot to conferences and enjoy speaking at events. One of the things that makes it enjoyable is being appreciated by the organizers of the events. Quite often, the speakers are forgotten. The organizers are focused on the attendees and the sponsors, after all that is where the money is coming from. But without the content, there would be no event.

Organizers of some conferences I have attended go out of their way to make you feel special. Not because you are a diva or act special, but simply because they want you to know that they appreciate you showing up and doing your best for their event.

I have received business gifts, food, and other signs of appreciation. All of these are great and I definitely love getting them, but the most effective, most treasured of all my speaker appreciation gifts is a hand written thank you note.

Sure the silver cufflinks I received are awesome, and I wear them regularly; the other gifts are great, too, I am certainly not complaining. But a hand written note to show the appreciation of the organizers is something that isn’t bought. It takes time and shows effort.

For small businesses, showing appreciation to customers, to valued vendors and members of staff can be tricky. Too big a gift and you can look showy; too small a gift and you can look lame. How do you show your appreciation without going over the top or falling short?

That is where the hand written note comes in. Identify why you are showing your appreciation, highlight what it is about the relationship that you value, make the message personal, and really show how much you value the recipient.

Much more than free food or a t-shirt, a hand written note to a valued customer or a reliable vendor or staff member will be treasured long after it is given. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t give other things, but a hand written note will go a long way in strengthening your relationships with your business partners.

On the wall in my office is a pinboard, and that is where I pin the notes I receive. Every day, I get to look at those notes and realize that I am appreciated for what I do — that is a heck of a good feeling.

What simple signs of appreciation do you use?