Tis the season to be merry and bright and network your butt off! I know what you’re thinking, that third one doesn’t belong there! But as a jobseeker, freelancer, or just driven business person, the holidays are the ultimate time to reconnect with your contacts. Holiday parties, holiday cheer… this time of the year gives you ample opportunity to reach out to your best clients and contacts, as well as people you hope to work with more. Remind them how thankful you are for them, and that you exist and they should think of you more often (hint, hint)! But how do you convey that in a holiday card without being annoying, cheesy, or ending up in spam? Read on, for an overview of the dos and dont’s of sending holiday cards to clients.
1. E-cards are acceptable
E-cards have become a nearly-universally acceptable form of saying thank you. In nearly all industries, an e-card shows more thought than a straight email, and gets the “thinking of you” point across quite well. Though a handwritten note is still always appreciated, if you don’t have the time, try an e-card.
2. Make sure to add a personal note
No matter what, make sure to take time to add a personal message to your card, like mentioning the project you worked on with them or a small anecdote from the past year. James Hirschfeld, cofounder of Paperless Post, cautions that you have to be careful to make sure your holiday cards are personal and not too self promotional. “The last thing you want as a business is for your holiday card to be seen as spam or clutter,” he told Fast Company. Even a short note that says “I really enjoyed working with you on the marketing project this year. Have a great time in Florida over the holidays, and hope to work with you in 2015!” is enough to turn an e-card or store-bought boxed card into a warm-fuzzy note that leaves your client remembering you fondly (and perhaps thinking about why they would like to work with you again).
3. Ask yourself why you are sending the card
Before you stress yourself out about sending cards to the 300 people you’ve interacted with this past year, ask yourself why are you sending this card in the first place? “There is absolutely nothing worse than receiving a perfunctory greeting from a business,” Hirschfeld says. What are good reasons to send a note? Send a holiday card to clients you hope to work with more, to people that you talk to regularly, and to people that help your business work (like lawyers and accountants). Of course, feel free to send a note to people who you really enjoyed working with – karma definitely works for holiday cards! Corporette has a great article with more suggestions on how to decide who makes the cut on your list.
4. Consider branding your card
Sending a generic card with a personal note can work, but consider additional measures to brand your card. You may be sending a holiday note to some people who need an extra cue to help place how they have worked with you. Think about include your business name and URL, either in your signature, on the envelope, or by dropping a business card in with the card. Many sites for ordering personalized cards, such as Minted and Zazzle, offer the ability for a few extra cents to have your return address printed on your cards. If you are a graphic or web designer, explore tastefully using your logo and/or company colors on the card, as well, for a nice cohesive touch.
5. Avoid religion (in most situations)
The holiday cheer is contagious. But, just a reminder that not everyone celebrates the holiday of Christmas. Even though reindeer and sleighs don’t seem overtly religious, there are many ways to show the holiday spirit of generosity using non-denominational cards. Try cards with snow, candy canes, or New Year’s celebrations (or even a cute polar bear). Rather than saying “Merry Christmas,” think about saying “Happy Holidays” or even “Happy New Year” to make sure that your business cards don’t offend anyone unintentionally.
On the flip side, for those of your clients and colleagues that do observe the holidays religiously, stay away from cards that promote drinking or partying too hard. Use common sense on this.
6. Forget the Christmas deadline
A holiday card doesn’t have to be sent out around Christmas. Consider a Thanksgiving note if you’re ready to make a first impression, or send a New Year’s card to kick the year off right.