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  • Success at Networking: Gifts that Rob Your Personal Brand

    Jimmy Fallon’s monologue bit this week encapsulates this so well.  He announced that Starbucks has a new Silver Card hailing it as the gift that cries here’s $200 that says I don’t know you.

    shutterstock_174331508He’s right.

    This season you could quickly rob yourself of points in credibility and engagement if you give that gift that shouts that.

    Dr. Paul White, a fellow Personal Branding Blog author and author of The Five Languages of Appreciation at Work, recounts a story of a Christmas where someone gifted him a Starbucks gift card.  And, this would be a thoughtful gift if Dr. White was a coffee drinker but he’s not.  Had this person known him better they would have known that he is not a coffee drinker yet enjoys fishing.  A gift card from the Bass Pro Shop would have been more appreciated because it was a gift wrapped in thoughtfulness.

    Thoughtful branding

    Tis’ the season to be thoughtful.  In business gift giving, gifts that are not thought centered around the receiver have a far better chance to have a negative effect on your personal brand.

    In fact, if you’re going to go generic in your gift giving (which can happen at times when you’re being budget conscious along with being fair and consistent to others), then do take the time to write a personal and thoughtful note as to why you appreciate this person or why they matter.

    For example, let’s say I decided to give chocolates to every one of my clients, close connections and referral partners.  In that group, there could be people who are dieting, who don’t like chocolate, or who are diabetic. What kind of impression do I send and what kind of gratitude am I communicating if I send something that dismisses those things?

    Yet, if I include a thoughtful note which includes:
    1.    Their name
    2.    What they specifically do that I appreciate
    3.    How they make a difference or matter in my life and/or business
    4.    And, that this gift was given as a sincere gesture of gratitude

    Then, that would be a gift wrapped more in thought.

    In this example, that might look like this:

    Brian,
    You are always looking out for my business and referring your friends and even family members to me.

    That means so much to me!  Your trust and belief and my ability to benefit from that by your personal introduction to your close knit circle has been extremely helpful in the growth and success of my business.

    I don’t know if you like chocolates. Do you?  I am giving this with sincere thanks and hope you can enjoy them or share them with your friends and family.

    That quick note addresses each of the four components of a note that is specific and personal to the receiver.  It also provides a question that promotes continued conversation and relationship building.  If someone is important to you and/or your business, wouldn’t you want to get to know them better?

    Tangible gifts

    Not everyone will appreciate gifts of appreciation no matter how thoughtful and resourceful in your research that you try to be.

    There are some of us who prefer and receive appreciation better in other forms.  It could be we prefer words of affirmation more than any gift; or acts of service (if we’re someone who thinks actions speak louder than words); in that same vein we might prefer quality time to anything that could be bought; or a solid high-five or pat on the back could mean even more.

    If you would like to learn more about the five languages of appreciation, here’s a great resource.

    Creating relationship building moments

    Use the time to build and develop your relationships.  Perhaps instead of spending money on a tangible gift a gift of quality time might be more worth it.

    You’ll see business gatherings and holiday open houses this time of year. As an individual, you can do the same.

    When I first started in business, I would have a holiday lunch and invite all of my clients and connections to attend.  It worked since my business then was highly localized which made it easier for everyone to attend.  Of course, lunch and the venue were on me, and during the event I allocated time for everyone to introduce themselves and get to know each other.

    After all, those connections and clients were interested in building their business and their network.  The holiday luncheon served as a thank you moment along with gifting them with new connections.  In fact, after the luncheon I sent an email with everyone’s contact information encouraging them to get to know someone on that list more for the upcoming New Year.

    Now, that the geography of business is more vast and diverse, I’m hosting a 12 Last Minute Tips to Drive Year End Success. As a reader, I appreciate the time you take to read my articles each and every week and you’re invited to join in on this online event.

    Maria Elena Duron is a Marketing Coach and Strategist with Know, Like, + Ignite and @mariaduron on Twitter. Would you like practical tips to create and curate content and experiences worthy of being passed person-to-person? -Get exclusive access.

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