Nancy MitchellNancy R. Mitchell is an established protocol and etiquette consultant and advisor with more than 30 years of experience in the field. Currently, she is an adjunct faculty member at George Washington University, where she developed and teaches protocol courses to Event Management Certificate Program students in the School of Business and Public Management, and at Stratford University, Falls Church, VA. She serves also as protocol and special events consultant to the Library of Congress, the world’s largest library and cultural center. For 23 years, Mitchell was Director of Special Events and Public Programs at the Library of Congress where she and her staff were responsible for planning and managing over 400 events each year. She coordinated the institution’s major special events, visits of heads of state and other foreign dignitaries, fundraising galas, conferences and meetings. As the Library’s chief protocol advisor, she served as liaison to the White House, U.S Department of State, the Congress, the Supreme Court and other government agencies, foreign embassies, academia and corporations. Mitchell owns The Etiquette Advocate, Inc., a firm providing etiquette and protocol training to corporations, universities, embassies, government agencies, non-profit organizations and individuals. She is the etiquette consultant to Engaged! magazine, has been featured on Good Morning America, Fox 5 News, WTOP Radio and National Public Radio, and is quoted on matters of etiquette and protocol by the New York Times, Washington Business Journal, and the Washington Post. She is a co-owner of the firm, Protocol Partners-Washington Center for Protocol, Inc., and is a member of the Protocol and Diplomacy International Protocol Officers Association and the Women Business Owners of Montgomery Country (MD).
Host: When is it appropriate to give a gift to a client and what are some appropriate gifts?
Nancy Mitchell: There are a number of times during a business year when you might consider giving a gift to a client. The first thing that comes to mind of course is the end of the year, everyone is exchanging holiday gifts, that is an appropriate time to gift something to a client with whom you have a long standing relationship. You want to thank them, you want to continue that relationship, you want to spread goodwill if you will.
End of the year is a perfectly appropriate time, let us say you have completed a project, an important deal with a client, you may at that point want to give them a gift to thank them for their part in it. You again want to follow the guidelines of your company and the recipient s company about, what gifts are appropriate and the spending limits, that is critical. Make sure your gift could never be misinterpreted as a bribe, as encouragement to continue business. It should be a sincere gift thanking them for an existing relationship. It should not be that you are sprinkling gifts out there hoping to accrue favor with vendor supplier or potential clients.