Reach out to clients and prospective employers during December and line up work for 2018.

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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?

Jennifer Worick is a veteran freelancer/contractor, publishing consultant and New York Times bestselling author. Email her at jen@jenniferworick.com.