Ah, the holidays. It's the time of year marked by the busy rush to get things done before people go on vacation, and the mad gift-shopping season. But, as a freelancer, there's one thing you might not have considered doing: giving gifts to your clients and repeat customers.
It's easy to get caught up in the expectation that clients should be the ones giving things to freelancers (like fair compensation for a digital marketing project well done). And while that's certainly true, by offering gifts to your clients for their past business, you put yourself in a good position to get more business from them in the future.
The saying "Give and you shall receive" rings true. Back in the 1970s, sociologist Phillip Kunz conducted an experiment. He decided to send a lot of Christmas cards to about 600 total strangers. The results? He got more than 200 replies … from complete strangers!
This demonstrates the rule of reciprocity, where people feel obligated to return in kind the same behavior they received from others. So when you give a gift to your client for the holidays, it may well result in more work coming your way in the new year.
We live in a world where people are interconnected thanks to the internet, forming new relationships frequently via networking platforms like LinkedIn. This can make professional relationships seem a dime a dozen and less valuable than they really are.
Giving gifts is a great chance to personalize your professional relationships with the kind of gift you choose to give clients. For example, you don't need to break the bank to give thoughtful gifts like a personalized notepad or whiskey/wine decanter.
Freelancers are thankful to have work – and if a client throws them repeat work, so much the better. Expressing genuine gratitude to your clients can go a long way in continuing to build rapport and respect in your professional relationship.
Case in point: a study referenced in Psychology Today established that expressing gratitude to a new acquaintance can inspire them to seek an ongoing relationship. Expressing appreciation via a gift can make enough of an impression on your client to lead to a longer relationship.
Yes, the holidays are hectic and chaotic. It's easy to fall into the trap of expecting things (like a bonus from a client!) instead of giving and being more selfless. But if you make the simple effort to be a bit more thoughtful in your client relationships this holiday season, you may be surprised at the ensuing positive benefit to your relationships and your own business prospects.
Have you given clients gifts for the holidays? Will this be your first year to do so? Tell us about it in the comments!