Monday, December 10, 2007

Serenity Tip: Gratitude

If you're like most self-employed people, you've already considered or finished sending out your holiday cards to key clients. Whether you're having cards custom designed with your logo or sending ready-made cards with a non-denominational message, I have a suggestion for you:

Say thank you to two important groups: Those self-employed people in your field who've enriched your business life this year and your clients.

Fellow writers

Looking at my marketing efforts, it remains true that most of my work comes from networking. Sometimes it's intentional networking, but usually, the contacts come from casual conversations with people I already love.

I consider sending them a holiday card with genuine thanks a gift not just to them, but also to myself. Doing so reminds me that none of us become successful on our own. We all benefit from the help and guidance of others.


Sure, sending holiday cards is a great way to get your name in front of a harried editor or otherwise busy client. But it shouldn't just be that. When I first started freelancing a few years ago, I didn't really understand this. But recently, I did a story for Yahoo! Hot Jobs on giving your boss a holiday present that made it more clear.

The best piece of advice I got was from Jo Bennett at New York firm Battalia Winston:

The best reason to give your boss a gift is to thank him or her for a specific act of kindness during the year that went "above and beyond the call of duty," Bennett said.

"Maybe your boss smoothed over a particular issue you had with a customer," she suggested. "Or maybe your boss gave you some great career advice. In that case, give something small with a nice card of genuine thanks."

Now I get it. In my holiday cards, I try to be as specific as possible about what I enjoyed about our working relationship this year: a specific story she assigned, her quick responsiveness or the opportunity to write a story you've been dreaming of for years. It's a joy.

So when you send holiday cards, consider not just sending them to people who sign your checks, but also to people who make those client relationships possible. They are, perhaps, the most important people in your business life.

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