If you're looking to make new contacts and grow your career, the holiday season is an ideal time. In fact, it's a huge mistake to not pursue these goals during the holidays, says career coach Ford R. Myers, author of Get The Job You Want, Even When No One's Hiring, (John Wiley & Sons).

"There really couldn't be a better time than November and December for boosting your career," he says. "Those in the position to hire are out of their normal environment and more willing to talk about work in a more relaxed setting. And there is less competition because a lot of people slow down their campaigns during this time of year."

In fact, 'tis the season to network. Myers offers four ways you can boost your career during the holidays.

1. Attend social and community events. "Most professional associations have a party for their December meetings, with a different spirit than the more formal presentations offered throughout the rest of the year," says Myers. "The corporate Christmas party also presents an exceptional opportunity to connect with colleagues and network."

But don't bring your resume or sales literature, Myers cautions. "Have a simple, tasteful business card with your name, phone number, e-mail address and LinkedIn link," he says. "A business card will leave a better impression than a resume at these events, which are more social in nature at this time of year."

2. Volunteer. This time of year, there are plenty of opportunities to help others, so find an organization - or two - you'd like to support.

"This is a good way to feel good when you need a boost, to have a renewed sense of purpose during your search, and to meet other professionals," says Myers.

3. Make calls. While offices quiet down, not everyone is away during the holidays. And those who are working may have more time to speak with you.

"I have a colleague who was starting a business who used the day after Thanksgiving to make both follow-up calls and cold calls," says Myers. "She found that whoever was at work that day was not only available for a conversation, but was grateful to speak to someone."

4. Send cards. This is a great time to get on the radar of existing and potential clients, executive search consultants, human resource executives, industry colleagues and hiring managers by sending a card. Whether you choose to send paper cards or electronic cards, don't let these people forget you during the holidays.

"When choosing a holiday card, pick a seasonal, nondenominational theme that works well with people of all religions," says Myers. "If you're using paper cards, put your contact information on the card so the person can reach you. Mail the cards early in December so yours will be received in time for people to invite you to their holiday get-togethers."