What's an appropriate gift for a source of professional referrals?
November 25, 2016 11:08 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to express my thanks to someone who's referrals to me for professional services probably make up 1/2 my income. My feelings of gratitude are sincere, but I worry, because of the circumstances, about coming across as self-serving or venal. Looking for suggestions on a specific gift and how to express my sentiments in a way that feels honest.
posted by Jon44 to Work & Money (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My general recommendations for stuff like this is wine/liquor and a box of fancy (i.e. not Rocher purchased at Walgreens) chocolates, but if their referrals are 50% of your income, you might want to go even fancier.
posted by griphus at 11:26 AM on November 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Food! It's always OK to gift food! Gift baskets are great for professional referral sources. They serve multiple functions - a feast for the eyes and the palate, easy to share with others or re-gift, and signals their status and your appreciation.

Some ideas: Costco (good value), Dean & Deluca (fancy), homemade (cozy), tailored to any dietary restrictions (shows you pay attention and you care).

Protocol: give something in the $20-$40 price range whenever you see them, or about every couple of months (chocolates/brownies), and give a big gift basket at Christmas time.
posted by metaseeker at 11:28 AM on November 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

Whatever gift you decide to give, I would include a hand-written note where you try to express you gratitude in a sincere way. I would use note paper, rather than a greeting card, to help convey the message that this is personal, not a generic holiday response. If it is practical to deliver it in person, do that and then you can repeat the sentiment in person.
posted by metahawk at 12:29 PM on November 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

When I've been in a similar situation, I picked a fancy ($100+) pen and pencil set I knew the person would like and sent it along with a hand-written thank you note. On another occasion, I gifted a cigar-lover with a box of expensive cigars that he would enjoy but never, ever spend the money on himself. The theme here is to select something that will be savored by the recipient, partly because it expresses your thanks and partly because it represents an indulgence beyond what they would buy for themselves.

Keep in mind: That wonderful someone made the referrals to you, but you and you alone provided a level of service (or care, or whatever) that kept those new clients coming to you. So you owe the individual a debt of gratitude for sending people your way, but that just gave you a (not insignificant) chance to win them over.
posted by DrGail at 12:51 PM on November 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Cigar smoker gets a great box of cigars. Spirits drinker gets something like an engraved personalized bottle of Johnnie Walker. Foodie gets a really large gift certificate to the best restaurant around. Car lover gets a weekend at driving school and a session on the track. Sounds like you know them well enough, or ask a friend or spouse. Handwritten note, etc.
posted by fixedgear at 1:37 PM on November 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

One of the best holiday gifts I ever got from a vendor I sent a lot of business was a card that arrived in December letting me know they had given the gift of some really exceptional Washington State cherries that would arrive during the summer. Long after all the hampers of cheese and crackers, pears, and chocolates were gone, long after empty months of no gifts, one day I open a package that arrives in my office and it's filled with the most delicious, sweet and juicy cherries I had ever tasted, with a lovely note reminding me who sent the gift. It really stood out, and was so appreciated during that "off" time of the year for gift giving.
posted by gateau at 3:58 PM on November 25, 2016 [4 favorites]

Some good suggestions here. My tale is more cautionary:

My office landlord delivers a holiday gift to every office in the building. It's always some kind of wheat-containing food. I don't eat wheat, and while I try to be grateful for the sentiment, it is a fairly shallow one. So I either have to wastefully throw it away or take the trouble to find someone to re-gift it to; both options I end up feeling vaguely resentful about.
posted by dancing leaves at 6:05 AM on November 28, 2016

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