enjoy your mass produced greeting!
November 30, 2005 8:11 AM   Subscribe

So my company wants us to send personalized holiday cards to clients we deal with regularly.

I now have a stack of very inoffensive, bland, and nonspecific "thinking of you with thanks at the holiday season" cards on my desk. (The company provided them, they're plastered with our logo and so on.)

Here is my issue. I have about eight different companies I deal with, and two or three people at each company. Should I send one card to each company or one card to each individual? Just to my primary contact, or to everyone I talk to at least once a month? Should I include a personal greeting, or just sign my name?

These are people I talk to over the phone and via email, but have never met in person. Not sure if it matters, but I am in the IT industry, as is every company I deal with.

This is my first "corporate" job, so I am still pretty unclear on a lot of the finer points of etiquette. Thanks so much for any help... I really don't want to ask my coworkers if I can avoid it, it's hard enough being one of the youngest people here without admitting I'm too clueless to handle christmas cards.
posted by Kellydamnit to Work & Money (7 answers total)
Primary contact, just sign your name. This is just to add a little touch, you don't want people to spend a lot of time reading and thinking about the card (because invariably they'll think "what a hollow insincere gesture").
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:18 AM on November 30, 2005

"Holiday" cards dammit! Don't let those Christians win! (just kidding)

This is an acceptable (as in not mockable) thing to ask for clarification from your boss. He/She is probably winging it as well. If your boss is already on holiday vacation, I would send out more rather than less (why not) and write something like Best wishes from the Fantabulous Company team -- dness2. Leave it at that. Personal greetings are for real friends in my book.
posted by dness2 at 8:19 AM on November 30, 2005

I sign and send 550+ Holiday cards each year. Most I will just sign with my first name (my whole name is printed on the cards). On some I will write a brief message - a "thanks for your help this year" or "have a wonderful holidays" - something brief. If I have a particularly strong relationship with a person, I might write a note that's a bit more specific.

If your contacts are anything like mine, though, they will be receiving many, many cards this year and won't really pay much attention to your card. I know that I glance at most of the cards I receive and then tack them up on the receptionist's outside cube wall. Personally, I think the whole thing is a huge scam - companies spend hundreds of dollars sending cards to each other and it's a huge bother.
posted by Coffeemate at 8:25 AM on November 30, 2005

This is what I do:

Dear [name],

Happy Holidays!


Remember - the purpose of the card is simply to wish happy holidays to the person that you talk with on the phone several times a week. Nothing more, nothing less. It's a small gesture showing that you remember this person during the holiday season.

Remember that, in business, people do business with people - not companies with companies. So the card is not a declaration of friendship, it's not a solicitation to do more business next year - it's simply a basic extension of human thoughfulness at the close of the year.

So be brief, write them all out by hand, and send them out in confidence.
posted by seawallrunner at 8:27 AM on November 30, 2005

"One of the most common mistakes people make when building relationships for career success and revenue growth is treating business contacts differently than personal friends. Just think for a moment about the people you work with on a professional level who are also close personal friends. Aren't they always more forgiving when you slip up and more helpful when you're in need than new acquaintances are? Of course! I guarantee your work will be easier, more joyful, and more successful if you make more of your business relationships personal."

-- Keith Ferrazzi

My take: I would say one card per contact with a little something personal text for the recipient (at least write his name in the card so he knows you're not just sending a pre-printed or pre-written set of generic cards).
posted by jchgf at 9:12 AM on November 30, 2005

second Seawallrunner - send one to everyone you speak to regularly, not just the main contact. For all you know christmas (sorry, holiday) card envy may be rife and it's just nice to recognise people you've dealt with in the year.

As an aside: my firm, among many of the big corporate/banking/service firms now doesn't send cards at all. Instead, we make a donation equivalent to the budget to a charity. From Dec onwards all our emails have a line added to the effect that "we're not not sending you a card because we hate you, but because it's a waste of time" and have a link to an e-card. A big advert gets printed near Christmas with all the supporters listed. Info.
posted by patricio at 9:12 AM on November 30, 2005

Since this is your "first 'corporate' job," and you only have about 24 contacts to handle, I would say that you should write a simple, short note to each person. Although the company is using this to maintain business contacts, you can also use it to start building a network of colleagues to hit up for a job later on. Something letting each person know that you appreciate the help they've given, or all their patience playing phone-tag, or whatever. People do just skim them, but every little bit helps.
posted by MrZero at 3:02 PM on November 30, 2005

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