Many—okay, the majority—of advertisers would have us believe that this holiday season will special because you finally found someone that perfect sweater, scarf, jewelry or gadget. Yet, the holiday memories that stick with me the most are the ones filled with sentiment: the amazing pistachio biscotti that a friend made for those of us working on December 24; the hilarious, personal letter sent by a college friend living thousands of miles away; the white chocolate chip and cranberry cookies I make for my honey this time every year.
If you’re looking to do something thoughtful for a writer, freelancer, entrepreneur and/or small business owner in your life, these five ideas will require two things: your time and sincerity. Cost: zero dollars. Value: priceless.
- Referrals. Giving genuine referrals is the equivalent of giving gold coins—and I don’t mean foil-wrapped chocolates. Even if the person on your list appears to have plenty of business and/or projects, he/she will appreciate your gift. When I’m at my most swamped, I’m still thinking about generating the next new client or contract I need to secure.
- An unsolicited testimonial*. Surprise your favorite entrepreneur, freelancer and/or writer with a testimonial via e-mail or LinkedIn. You can make it especially powerful by being specific and providing concrete examples about what makes the recipient rock. Wrap this present with a bow by including permission for him/her to use your words publicly. *Clients, vendors and co-workers—people who have first-hand experience with the gift receiver’s work—are the best givers for this one.
- A positive review. This is especially valuable for local entrepreneurs and small business owners who have store-fronts. Use a site like Yelp to share why this business is so great and why other customers will love it, too. If the writer in your life is published, post a review of his/her book on Amazon.com or other book-related website.
- Spread the word. Does your favorite freelancer, writer or business owner have a website? A blog? Send him or her more site visitors by posting a link on your favorite social networking site, like Twitter or Facebook. This promotion can send new readers, subscribers and even potential new customers to the recipient. Another, even more personal option, is to send a link and “why you should check this out” e-mail to your network.
- Your time. This gift is as unique as you are. It can range from giving several hours of your skills in business development to an evening of babysitting to an hour or two of filing. If your entrepreneur has a store-front business, you can volunteer to cover the store so that the owner can take a day off or enjoy a special dinner. Any time you can give will be greatly appreciated.
Are you a writer, freelancer or entrepreneur who has received a special, no-cost gift? What was it? Is there a thoughtful, zero-dollar gift that you’d love to give or receive? What is it? Please share in the comments below.Photo attribution: http://www.flickr.com/photos/welovepandas/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
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