The 1, 2, 3 Series on Courtesy and Good Manners in an Accounting Firm. Issue 4: Business Gifts: What, When and How?
When is a thank you note not enough? This article is the continuation of Issue 3: Thank You Notes.
Agreed, it is respectful to acknowledge when someone helps or supports you in some way.
When Is a Gift Needed?
Generally gifts are not needed. It depends on the time, effort and knowledge given by the person and also your relationship with them. If you are asking a favour of someone you don’t know, then a gift may be in order. If I have an appointment to catch up with a person I don’t know, I sometimes taken along a gift.
Some examples to indicate when a gift is appropriate
- When someone you don’t know gives you over an hour of their time and/or a particularly clever piece of information. This may be a career guidance interview, or an introduction to someone else.
- If someone sends you useful background information to help with an issue you are facing. I once received a scratchy with a thank you card. Didn’t win anything, but I appreciated the thought.
- When someone does a presentation for you. If there is no fee, then courtesy says a gift is appropriate. Part of the ceremony of thanking the person and highlighting key points they covered, includes handing across a gift. If their effort is not worth that acknowledgement, one wonders why you invited them to speak. I will never forget the case of South Australian red I received following a paid presentation I did in Adelaide. Money and wine, wonderful.
- If a deal goes through, then a gift of acknowledgement is appropriate.
Guidance is available, watch what marketing people do.
I was meeting with the marketing consultant for a national firm, we discussed an introduction by a small firm partner. As a result, the national firm had received positive press exposure. The marketing consultant said he had made an appointment with the partner from the small firm and was going to take a big bunch of flowers to her. I subsequently received an email from the small firm partner suggesting I had been involved in the the process and thanking me. She was pleased to receive the flowers and have formal acknowledgement of her assistance. The actual partner from the national firm had not thanked her at all.
Years ago I introduced a marketing consultant to an accounting firm. The firm was only 2 partners and my contact had told me he needed a marketing manager. I suggested the firm did not need a full time marketing manager to issue invitations and make catering arrangements. Rather he needed a good clerical person inside the firm and a specialist marketing consultant on tap for strategy, planning, copywriting, etc. After the introduction, the marketing consultant sent me a most generous department store voucher. Not only do I remember the gift, I remember what I purchased with the voucher! The consultant still supplies services to the accounting firm. I learnt a lot from that marketing manager about acknowledging support and introductions.
In the next issue, I will begin to cover the matter of table manners, a minefield for some. Later, I will get to communication with clients.
(c) Thea Foster – Added Value Corporation. Please visit www.addedvalue.com.au for further information.
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