A Powerful Way to Say Thank You

There are several events or times of the year when giving thanks come to mind - but you don't have to wait until then!  Make it a frequent and regular practice to reflect on everything that fills your heart with gratitude.

Consider not just the windfalls you've achieved, but also the people who have provided you with exceptional services, or who have otherwise helped you in your professional life.
And maybe you're wondering how you could give thanks in the most appropriate way. Before you run out and buy them a bottle of wine or some knickknacks  that will just clutter up their office, I have a much better idea.
How about giving them a testimonial!  If they have done great work for you, which presumably is the reason you're feeling grateful, giving them a great testimonial is one of the most valuable things you can do for them.
It will be far more appreciated than almost anything else you may give them, with the possible exception of a huge bonus.  That's because it will help them get that bonus for themselves, since testimonials are a key to attracting more and better-paying clients.
But how do you give a testimonial that will be beneficial for the recipient?  First of all,  be sure not to give them just a generic basic testimonial, but make it really good one.  It's not as hard as you may think.
A great testimonial is enthusiastic yet realistic, and it addresses specific things the person has done exceptionally well, as well as specific problems he or she might have solved for you.
Let's say you want to write a testimonial for "Jill."
1) How has she helped you?

Start by thinking about just how exactly Jill has helped you.  What problem did you have that she helped you solve.  In which way did she solve it that made her exceptional and inspired your gratitude?
You don't have to go into all the gory details when it comes to the problem, but if you originally tried to get other people to help you with it who were not able to solve it, be sure to mention that.
2) Consider the "before" and "after" formula

One easy way to express this in a testimonial is to use the before and after formula.  Before you met Jill, you were having such and such a problem.  And even though you tried to get help from several people, none of them were able to solve it.
But after you met Jill, you were able to do ...
The specifics will vary, of course.  If Jill helped you with consulting or counseling, for example, you can talk about the difference it has made in your business or life.  If she helped you with something more technical, i.e., set up your website or fixed your computer, you can talk about that.
Where possible try and quantify or dollarize the results of Jill's assistance. This will greatly enhance the value and result of your testimonial because - numbers sell!
3) What about the way she handled the problem was exceptional?

Then think about what it was about the way Jill handled your problem that made her so effective.  Did she pay close attention to what you said?  Was she particularly creative?  Or was she simply really good at what she did and delivered fast and on time?
You get the idea.  As you write up your testimonial, talk about the specific problem and the specific things Jill did to solve it for you.  Keep the tone natural, as if you were telling someone who could use Jill's help, which is in effect what you'll be doing.
4) What else makes her stand out?

Feel free to can add anything else you like about Jill's general wonderfulness and professionalism and skill, the more specific the better, to top it off. 
5) Add a note of gratitude & an explicit recommendation

Then close it out with a comment about how grateful you are to have found Jill and how you recommend her to anyone who may be facing that problem or is looking for someone to provide the type of services she provides.
Then send it to Jill and tell her that she should feel free to use it as a testimonial.  You might want to give her permission to edit or tweak your comments.
If you're comfortable to do so, ask her if she wants it on audio or even video, since audio and especially video testimonials are even more powerful.  If Jill has the technical capacity to arrange that, she will be thrilled to take you up on it.  In the meantime, your written testimonial, especially if accompanied by your photo and of course your name, company name, and website will do the trick.
So now that you know how to give back in a way that will make a real difference to the people who have helped you professionally, take a few minutes to reflect who in your life might deserve a great testimonial. 
Then go ahead and get writing!