Every year at holiday time, businesspeople face a decision: to gift or not to gift. The answer is yes. But once you move past that barrier to entry the thorny issue is what to give and to whom? The gift you give your clients, suppliers, partners, and employers communicates more than any letter or email.Hollywood offers up the uber example of gift giving. In tinsel town, the gifts you give and the gifts you receive proclaim your status within the industry. In a business where giving cars, motorcycles, and round-the-world trips is de rigueur, most glitterati err on the side of giving more. The results: when the iPod was the hot gift last year, every decent mid-list actor ended up with a dozen iPods.
Know that recipients notice what you give, and recipients notice what you give to others. If you’re considering a tiered structure to your gifting, think through the fallout when the recipients compare their loot because they will. Count on it.
But what to give. There are no hard and fast rules, but consider the message you’re sending with the gift and know that one size doesn’t always fit all. Wine can be a nice gift, but not for your sober client. Chocolates are tempting, but not for your diabetic supplier. Such tone-deaf gifts land with a thud and send a message loud and clear that you’re not paying attention.