Should you send the boss a holiday card?

“Thinking about sending the boss a holiday card?” asks Allison & Taylor, a reference checking firm in Rochester, Michigan in their article Deciding Whether to Send the Boss a Holiday Card.

You probably have a good idea: a 2008 survey quoted 50% of holiday card recipients as indicating they were more likely to do future business with a company (or individual) that sends holiday greeting cards.

And with your co-workers vying with you for the boss’s favor, your holiday card might prove to be a small, but decisive, differentiator.

Here are some reasons why your greeting card is a good idea:

  1. Connecting with your boss (or former boss) will help keep you top-of-mind in their awareness, translating to possible future support or opportunity.
  2. Sending your boss (also former bosses, colleagues, suppliers, etc.) a card demonstrates a personal touch to accompany your business relationship.
  3. Staying in touch with bosses and colleagues via a holiday card is a subtle yet highly effective form of networking. (It’s also less expensive than taking them to lunch, and won’t violate corporate edicts if sent via personal mail.)
  4. Staying in the favor of your prospective employment references (particularly former bosses) is critical to your future employment success. The reference-checking firm of Allison & Taylor (http://www.allisontaylor.com/positive_references.asp) notes that approximately half of all reference checks they conduct reveal negative input from the references. Consider that a greeting card could prove to be a small, but critical, investment in your professional future.
  5. Developing and maintaining positive relationships with your boss, co-workers and former bosses will ultimately be a cornerstone of success in your career. Besides the use of greeting cards, there are a number of effective etiquette tips that may be appropriate for those who may ultimately become your professional references.

While sending out holiday cards is almost certainly a good idea, even this generous gesture can backfire if the proper protocols aren’t observed. Here are some additional guidelines to ensure your card is well received:

  1. Choose a high-quality holiday card that allows no possibility of offending its recipient. Remember that not everyone celebrates Christmas – be mindful of religious and cultural nuances, particularly with your international recipients.
  2. Choose a design that is appropriate for your business associates.
  3. Include one of your business cards inside the greeting card. This small insertion ensures that your recipients have your most current contact information and will reinforce your name with the card’s recipient.
  4. Be sure that your inscriptions on the outside of the card are both legible and attractive. Consider using a form of calligraphy to make your recipient’s name and address visibly pleasing. Also, be sure to include your return address on the mailing envelope.
  5. Sign each card personally. It only takes a moment to sign your name and write a short greeting, and your business associates will notice and appreciate this more personal gesture.
  6. Check the spelling of your contacts and their corporate name. Any good points you’ll score with a holiday card will be lost if you misspell your contact’s name or corporate information.
  7. Keep your contact list accurate and up-to-date. Make sure you’re not sending a card to someone who has left the department or the company.
  8. Don’t be late. In life and in business, timing is everything. Remember that many companies close during the holidays and people take vacation to be with family, so send your cards early. Also note the possibility that a recipient of your card may want (out of consideration or guilt) to respond with a card back to you prior to the holidays. Aim to have all your corporate holiday cards in the mail no later than December 15 if you’re sending them within the U.S., or earlier if you’re sending them via international mail.

In short, a professional greeting card can go a long way in making a good impression on all your business contacts. Cultivating good relationships this holiday season will help ensure your professional success tomorrow.

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About Charlotte Weeks - Executive Career Coach / Executive Resume Writer / Outplacement Consultant

Prior to founding Weeks Career Services, Inc. Charlotte Weeks worked in human resources at a national association, where she experienced the hiring process from the other side. She's also the past president of The National Resume Writers' Association (The NRWA). Charlotte specializes in providing C-level executives (CEO, CFO, CMO, etc.), association executives, executive directors and senior-level professionals (director, VP, SVP, etc.) with comprehensive career coaching services and high-ROI resumes. She is author of "I Want a Job in an Association -- Now What?? A Guide to Getting a Job in a Professional Association, Membership Organization, or Society" and featured author of "101 Great Ways to Enhance Your Career." Additional book contributions include "The Twitter Job Search Guide," "Resumes That Pop!," and "Step-by-Step Cover Letters." As an internationally-recognized expert, Charlotte provides programs and documents tailored to each individual’s needs. To ensure that each person is given the highest quality of attention and service, Charlotte works with a limited number of new clients each month. For more information about Charlotte, please visit her Web site at www.WeeksCareerServices.com.
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