Reach out to clients and prospective employers during December and line up work for 2018.
With Thanksgiving under our belts, we now look toward the craziness that is December. Managing deadlines amidst holiday parties and family get-togethers is tough enough, but here’s a wild thought for all you freelancers and contractors out there: ramp up your networking and deepen client relationships.
December is the ideal time to reach out to clients, past, present and future. While there may be end-of-year business to wrap up, workplaces are generally a little more relaxed and jovial. Here’s how to leverage the holidays and set your business up for a successful 2018.
Hand deliver a token of appreciation. Thank your clients for their ongoing business by dropping off a small but meaningful gift. If you know your client likes to travel, send her a desk calendar that features a different international city each month. If you share an inside joke with your manager, find a gift that reflects your shared sense of humor. If you know someone has a favorite charity or sits on the board of a nonprofit, make a small donation in her name.
If you have a lot of clients and want to streamline your gift-giving, pick one of your favorite local foodstuffs or an item made by a friend. For example, is there something at your local farmer’s market that you crave, or do you know someone who wrote a terrific book? Buy multiples and see if you can get a bulk discount! And even if you aren’t crafty, wrap it nicely and include a heartfelt card. For more ideas, check out these 10 fun, affordable gifts to spread a little work cheer.
Personalize a holiday card. Take the time to thank your clients for their business, detailing which aspects of a project you particularly enjoyed. Invest in customized or high-quality cards and write out a couple cards each day. Wish former or prospective clients a happy holiday season and invite them out for coffee in January, following up with an email or call to set up a meeting.
Don’t forget your support network. I was fortunate enough to do some work for a company that does corporate branding. The owner subcontracted me to write web copy for a corporation and when the holidays rolled around, she dropped off a bag with a small bottle of champagne, a pound of locally roasted coffee and a playful jigsaw puzzle that one of her clients produced. How could I not want to do more work for her?