Over the years I have written articles on business etiquette during the holiday season. For the most part, I have focused on providing advice surrounding your attire and behavior at a business holiday functions – the do’s and don’ts of social protocol to ensure that you wake up the morning after with happy memories as opposed to feelings of either regret or embarrassment.
The advice I shared with you in these past posts such as “Winning Etiquette Tips For Showcasing Your Best Self During the Holiday Season” is, of course, timeless, and I would encourage you to revisit them.
However, with this post, I want to share with you essential tips on how you can use holiday greeting cards to strengthen your relationships with business associates and clients alike. It’s an inexpensive, yet effective way to stand out, keep in touch, and show your appreciation to others, which is a great way to be memorable if you do it with taste and decorum.
Tip 1 – Personalize
It is so easy to send a greeting card with the click of your mouse that it has become a perfunctory, almost robotic, exercise in which any real personal sentiment and presence is not part of the “process.”
Stand out from the pack. While taking the time to send cards with personalized notes may seem outdated and time-consuming, the fact is that doing so shows that you value the relationship you have with the other person because you took the time to go the extra mile.
Even if your company supplies pre-printed cards with your name and company logo embossed on the card, add something special. You can offer thanks for a wonderful relationship or best wishes for the New Year.
One thing to remember is to send a separate holiday card to the administrative assistants of your customers and business partners. This extra thought will go a long way since they are in charge of scheduling meetings and can give you priority treatment in the future.
If you intend to connect with those individuals where your relationship is a digital one, then an email card would be appropriate. You can also send an e-card to someone who is in a remote location or if you are concerned that your card may not arrive on time for the holidays through regular mail. One of my favorite sites for holiday e-cards is jacquielawson.com where you can inscribe a personalized message.
Tip 2 – Be Sensitive To Differences
Not everyone celebrates Christmas, so it is important to recognize our differences.
However, there is no need to purchase a variety of cards reflecting all of the different celebratory practices. A culturally neutral holiday greeting card will more than suffice.
Beyond recognizing different beliefs and practices, you should also make sure that your message is in line with the recipient’s tastes and personality so that you do not inadvertently offend them. In other words, know your audience and exercise good judgment realizing that it is always better to err on the side of thoughtful caution.
Tip 3 – A “Handy” Address
You have made an effort to sign your name and write a personal note on each card. How are you going to address the envelope for mailing?
While using a pre-printed address label might be convenient, it is like baking a beautiful cake and then deciding not to ice it. People regularly receive all kinds of mail with a computer generated address. The ones that stand out are those in which the address is handwritten. Personally, I almost always open these first.
After all, doesn’t your card deserve to be front and center?
Here are a few more important tips to consider:
- If you only know the card recipient through his or her business, be sure you send the card to the person’s office, not their home
- If you do send a greeting card to the home, make sure you include the spouse/partner’s name and “family.”
- Don’t send a holiday card to a couple at the business address unless they both work there.
Tip 4 – Select the Perfect Closing
The way in which you close your personalized holiday wishes matters. It should reflect the right tone for your relationship with a holiday spirit.
Use a professional closing for business-related greetings. For example, if you do not know the individual well, sign your name with the name of your company underneath. For closer relationships, include the names of everyone in your family or use your family name.
Suggestions for salutations for business relationships:
- Season’s Greetings and a Happy New Year
- Happy Holidays
- Christmas Blessings
- From your friends at . . .
- Thank you for another year of patronage and friendship
- Wishing you and your family the best this Holiday Season
- We look forward to working with you in the years to come
Tip 5 – Better Never Than Late
Holiday cards should ideally be mailed no later than the second week of December to ensure that they arrive on time.
If, however, you find yourself running out of time, then mail a Happy New Year card instead following the same guidelines covered in the first four tips.
A Time To Remember
Remember, the holiday season is a time to celebrate existing relationships as well as creating new ones.
Taking the time to share warm wishes that enables you to do so on a personal basis will carry through to the new year and beyond.