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Business Gift Giving Etiquette

Aug 17, 2007
In general gifts are given in business to promote goodwill and foster good relationships. They are also given to show appreciation. How do you know what is a proper gift?

First off, if you are dealing in international trade you should make yourself knowledgeable about the customs of those you would like to gift. For example if you are dealing with oil barons or emirates from the Middle East you wouldn't want to give them a gift of wood no matter how intricate. The reason is that they perceive would to be of very low value, not making any brownie points there.

Another big consideration is to give a gift that you know the recipient will appreciate. Do a little research; find out what their interests and hobbies are. They will be very impressed that you took the time to discover what they like and will feel comfortable in knowing that this wasn't just some anonymous purchase.

Gag gifts are almost always inappropriate, especially if there is a sexual connotation. Lingerie should never be given as a business gift. This is an intimate gift reserved for those in a close personal relationship.

Other gifts to be careful of giving are food and alcohol which are very popular during the holidays. Prime examples would be giving a gift of lobster or a gift basket with pork sausage to a Jewish business associate, not kosher. Another faux pas would be giving wine to someone who is either alcoholic or doesn't drink at all.

So what's safe to give someone as a business gift?

Again, just keep in mind what the perceived value is in the culture of the person you are gifting. For example a person from Mexico would think lowly of a gift of silver because it is cheap and abundant there. Chocolate is a gift that can have two different perceptions. If you give someone chocolate that came from Wal-Mart they may perceive that as cheap, but if you give them expensive imported French chocolate they will consider that thoughtful. Just remember it all depends on the person. Gifts should be for a specific individual based upon what you know or have learned about them.

The amount of the gift depends upon the hierarchy in the company. The higher position a person holds the more expensive the gift should be. Also, be sure to never give similar gifts to all those you are gifting.
About the Author
Gregg Hall is a consultant to online businesses. See the site he recommends for gifts
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