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MyShingle’s Referral/Thank You Gift Survey, MT/HT @LeannaHamill

by Carolyn Elefant on August 23, 2011 · 3 comments

in Ideas & Tips

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Update – Note: If you send handwritten notes or even emails to thank referrals, feel free to include that in the thank you category – and if you’re using notes or cards, please share the name of the vendor as well! 

It’s only fitting that a post seeking input on referral and thank you gifts ought to begin with a thank you. The idea for this project, described in more detail below, grew directly out of the tweet below sent by Massachusetts Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorney,

I’m neither sufficiently techie nor patient to even attempt to implement Leanna’s actual suggestion. Yet I too suffer from an utter void of original ideas for gifts to thank others for a referral or an effort beyond the call of ordinary collegial duty — like peer reviewing a 75 page article or covering an active while I’m on vacation. The solution? Put the question to my readers (as I did last year with tech issues) to see what gifts you like to give and receive as thank you’s. The survey will run through the end of August and I’ll publish the results shortly thereafter. To participate in the survey, click here: MyShingle’s Referral/Thank You Gift Survey

A couple of caveats. First and most importantly, be aware that some states do not permit lawyers to give gifts, even of de minimis value. The theory in these jurisdictions that gift-giving, whether before or after a referral is made constitutes the “giving of something of value in exchange for referral” which is verboten in virtually every jurisdiction. When I post the survey responses, I’ll try to include some additional research and ethics opinions on whether gift giving is permitted but bear in mind that mileage on use of these gifts, at least as thank you’s for a referral (as opposed to a holiday gift or thank you for filing a motion) may vary.

Second, the survey includes an “honor system” certification that you don’t own or receive financial benefits from promoting a particular gift item. I have no way to enforce this certification but I’m hoping that at least putting it out there will deter potential offenders (I know, I’m naive that way…)

Third, though I’m hoping for lots of responses from lawyers, the survey is open to and relevant for any service providers who rely on referrals and positive relationships with others to succeed.

Finally, you are certainly not required to include your identity – but if you do and you’ve suggested a really unique gift idea, you may receive a gift yourself. Leanna certainly will!

And with that, have at it – the MyShingle Referral/Thank You Gift Survey is open for business!

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  • Christine McCall

    I post this comment here because the survey form did not feature an appropriate “place.”  Three thank-you gifts from clients that beat all others hands down: (1) personal written thank-you note; (2) written thank-you with invitation to use the content in our advertising, on web-site, etc.(3) notification from Avvo or another consumer-review site that a favorable review and rating of our services has been posted (especially nice when unexpected).

  • Carolyn Elefant

    Thank you for sharing these great ideas.  In fact, you (or other respondents) can include a handwritten note in the $0-$20 category – a few respondents have done so already. You are right that these are extremely valuable, not to mention very flattering. 
      

  • Carolyn Elefant

    I’ve received a couple of emails and comments, like  Christine’s below asking why the survey doesn’t include a category for handwritten thank you’s. In response, I did update the post to specify that you are free to mention handwritten (or telephoned) thank yous.
    However, the reason that I didn’t initially include handwritten/phoned thank yous, or allow more space for them is because I assume that most people are already familiar with this approach, and already thank referrals or colleagues with a card or phone call or even an email.  So including this in the table would not really have given anyone new ideas.
    Second, there are many times when at least I feel that a note is not enough. Sometimes, I’ve been dilatory in getting a note out and then feel that I should send something additional. Other times, I’ve gotten a really nice referral and feel that it deserves a special thank you – more than a Starbucks coffee card.  If I had access to an easy list, I could order the item and get it out quickly – and that is really the purpose of this survey – to make it easier for people to come up with appropriate gifts in a range of prices.

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