Have you considered creating your own personal business card?

Even though we live in an increasingly digital world, a business card is still critical to networking. It makes you look more professional, not to mention prepared. (After all, no one wants to be scurrying for a piece of paper or napkin to write down her info when meeting a new professional contact.) And having your own personal card — even if it’s not tied to your current workplace — can make you stand out even more.

But before you break out the Photoshop, here’s everything you need to know about making — and using — a professional calling card.

Keep it simple

The more straight-forward and to the point, the better: name, email, phone number and title or field of interest. Skip the phone if you want, but add social media links if you feel they present you in a positive light.

Including your LinkedIn profile and online portfolio or blog can be beneficial as well. Your new acquaintance may want to learn more about you before reaching out, so give them a place to find that information.

DIY

There are several options available to help you make business cards easily. Most online printers have pre-made templates you can choose from and easily populate with your own info. If you’re looking for something more original, reach out to a designer or design them yourself (Google Images is a good source for inspiration). It’s okay to invest some money, because even if your information changes, you can use a good business card template for years.

Keep in mind that the design of your business card should reflect your industry. If you are in marketing, design or a creative field, you can be more adventurous with your design; if you are in finance or a more corporate industry, be slick and professional.

Use them all. the. time.

Don’t order a bunch of new business cards and then have them sit in your closet collecting dust. It’s a good rule of thumb to permanently keep a few business cards in each of your wallets or purses. This way, if an opportunity presents itself out of the blue, and you need a business card to give to someone, you won’t be caught off guard.

Know your etiquette

When someone hands you her business card, yours in return. Take a look at your new connection’s card instead of just throwing it in your purse or pocket without acknowledging it.

Jot down some notes on the card, so you can remember specifically who that person was and why you were going to reach out to him or her. This is a great tip especially if you are meeting a lot of people in one day.

Don’t forget to follow up! Wait a few days and reach out via email and let them know how nice it was to meet them. Don’t wait too long to send a follow-up. You want to remain fresh in the person’s mind.