Appropriate Professional Gifts
I enjoyed your presentation at the recent NAPP meeting very much. I have some people I would like to send a little token of my appreciation and would be interested if you had a sample list of gifts you typically send out to professional contacts. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you, Keith
Professional gifts require a good deal of discretion. Beyond corporate guidelines based on legality of professional gifts, an item’s price, the frequency of gifts recieved, Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, etc, there are 3 rules I recommend for appropriate professional gift given:
1. Make certain it’s appropriate & in good taste – I’ve never liked trinkets or “gag” gifts – what’s the point? In general stay away from personal items, i.e. clothing, personal effects & toiletry. Concentrate on what that personal could professionally use? What would they like in their office that would (in a positive manner) remind them of your relationship (can’t go wrong with Tiffany’s Corp Gifts)? For example, I recently saw a CFO take notes at a function on 3x5 personalized card, in a nice leather holder, on the other side of which, he kept his business cards – and the whole thing fit nicely in a suite coat pocket - how practical.
2. Personalize it – if it’s worth doing, do it right. What have you heard them talk about that gives them joy? What do they like doing outside of work. If the person is a big hockey fan, get them hockey tickets. If they’re into the theater, invite them out to a play. We all have outside interests & passions. A) by giving a personalized gift, you illustrate that you DO listen, and b) you make the experience that much more memorable. Also, beyond physical gifts people also appreciate experiences, i.e. a day at Road Atlanta Racing School, a Cooking Class, The Kentucky Derby, or an Atlanta Falcon’s Game. Instead of giving something, why not invite them out to join you for an event that you know they would appreciate.
3. It’s never about the price – it’s the thought that counts, so make each gift giving opportunity, a reason to make a real connection. In 2002 I was at the site of the World Trade Center tragedy in NYC. In a small shop, I found these very unique lapel pins – bought all 10 that the store had, and sent 8 of them to decorated military veterans who are personal friends with a note that read, “Saw this and though of your patriotism and service to this great country. Let us never forget 9/11. David.” Your gifts don’t have to be that dramatic; my point is that the pins were $10 each, but the impact of the personalized note made them priceless.
I also really like to bring unique items back from my personal travels. A small lantern from Turkey, a carved wooden smile from Bali, a hand made picture frame from Iran - all personal, all inexpensive, all grand gestures to the recipients.
Give professional gifts to the relationships you value the most, or the ones you’d like to invest in. Get something simple, personalize a handwritten note, and expect nothing in return. If you can truly touch the people in your life, it will make a greater impact than you’ve ever imagined.
Build Relationships with a Greater Purpose!