What are the do’s and don’ts for your business gifts? Giving and receiving gifts properly is an important part of international business. There are some guidelines to follow when picking a customer relation gift.
Preparing for a business meeting requires a working knowledge of the information to be discussed or presented, careful attention to all details on the printed material to be distributed, and perhaps a gift. This gift is a social gesture that may be expected in some countries, and could be considered a bribe in others. Knowing the gift guidelines for the country you’ll be visiting will help make your meeting a success.
Do’s and don’ts for your business gifts
Some multi-national companies and some governments have very strict policies regarding their employees accepting gifts. To avoid creating a problem, it’s imperative you learn the policies for the companies you do business with. In many countries, exchanging gifts is strongly rooted in tradition. Part of the tradition is the gracious style used to present and receive them. It’s important to plan time and focus on the process.
A standard to keep in mind for any gift you select is quality. Choose quality items that are not ostentatious. If you have gifts with your company logo, it’s better if the logo is discrete.
A good guideline if there’s a concern is to offer a gift, saying you’re giving it on behalf of your company. It’s important to always honour the most senior person, so he will be the individual you actually present with the gift, stating you want him to accept it on behalf of his company. This gesture, company to company, will usually circumvent any problem regarding undue influence.
Business gifts and local culture
Cultures with detailed rituals for the ceremony of gift giving are the Japanese and the Chinese. And Nomadic cultures in the Middle East have a tradition of hospitality to travelers, while Latin cultures consider all relationships as personal. So any country with a population from these cultural backgrounds will exchange gifts as a normal part of building relationships and doing business. Gifts are a symbolic way to show appreciation and to intensify relationships between companies.
In today’s world, with global companies, as well as countries populated and influenced by different religions and cultures, it’s important to develop good business relationships by taking the time to learn more about the person you’re doing business with. This knowledge will give you insight into choosing more meaningful gifts, that the recipient will know was specifically selected for him or her, and be more appreciated.
Business gifts in China and Japan
In Chinese culture symbolism is important, with colors and numbers having special meaning. Red is a lucky color; pink and yellow represent happiness; and the number 8 is the luckiest number. The colors black, white and blue and the #4, or four of anything, are negatively associated with death or funerals.
In Japan gift giving is an art form, representing friendship, respect, and gratitude. The ceremony is important; the gift is always in a gift box, or beautifully wrapped in quality paper, and given with great respect. Because the symbolism is key, the gift is a gesture that you’re looking forward to a long lasting relationship. A gift with a pair of items is considered lucky, but sets of four or nine are unlucky.
Locally Produced Business gifts
If you are doing business in a country known for producing a particular product, local pride and quality dictate that you wouldn’t offer that item as a gift, especially if it were manufactured elsewhere. In fact, presenting a gift that relates to your home country gives an extra and positive dimension. These business gifts leave a tangible appreciation of the relationship.
Need some inspiration? Visit our shop for typical Dutch business gifts!