“ 'Tis the Season When Gifts Become Bribes”?

This was my week to drop by and say hello to attorneys and recruiting personnel  in law firms with whom I work all year long - but rarely see.  I like to bring a little something to leave with them to show my appreciation for their business and support throughout the year.  More often than not, it's gourmet chocolate, wine or champagne, in a glittery box and wrapped with a shiny bow.  The gesture always results in a smile, and sometimes I am told that the recipient looks forward to my annual visit...and that makes me  smile! 

Some recruiters I know have told me that they don't give gifts anymore; they don't feel that gifts are appreciated or are a worthwhile expenditure.  After all, mailing is expensive these days and time is money, right?!?  I feel differently - the gesture extends way beyond marketing or expenses - it's about appreciation.   I look forward to this trek all year long - I value these relationships.  "Thank you" can be magical words.

Therefore, it was particularly timely this morning when I read a very straightforward article on the “art” of corporate gift-giving.  Written by a compliance officer, this author presents views from countering sides about what is an appropriate gift to give – if you give a gift at all.

Is corporate gift-giving crafty – or strategic?  Is the gift being given out of generosity or with appreciation? Although gifts are given throughout the year for various reasons, through the years it is still commonly regarded that giving a gift to a valuable client is an accepted method of showing appreciation for one’s loyalty and business.  As competitive as the market is, you might wonder whether the largest and most dramatic gifts are those that turn heads…and get the business.  I believe that there will always be a market for elaborate demonstrations such as cars, box seats to a popular venue, expensive wine and champagne – you name it.  However, for most people I believe it’s about tastefulness, appropriateness and primarily about genuineness.  I am convinced that there’s just no substitute for using good judgment and showing appreciation for our professional relationships!

You may find this helpful - Alexandra provides some “near-universal guidelines based on research that [her] organization TRACE has undertaken for over a decade:

  • Gifts should be modest, tokens of esteem.
  • Ideally, they should bear the corporate logo or reflect the company’s products and they should be provided openly and transparently.
  • Delivering to an office is preferable to sending to a home address.
  • One gift-giving holiday or event should be observed. It doesn’t matter if it’s Diwali, Eid, the Lunar New Year, July 4th, or Christmas, but pick (only) one.
  • Perishable gifts of flowers or food are generally thought to be less risky, in part because they can’t be resold.
  • Give consistently and without regard to pending or recent procurement or other official decisions.
  • Follow corporate policy.
  • Document everything.
  • Give in good faith and without expectation of any quid pro quo.
  • A moderate annual affirmation of both new and longstanding relationships is not a bribe.”

Enjoy developing relationships and gift-giving…there is always an appropriate time and way to say  (and show) “thanks’!

Read the entire article By Alexandra Wrage