As a small business owner you may think that networking has nothing to do with your services, but that’s not true. Networking is essential in a competitive world. Relationship building in the professional world brings your business word of mouth marketing and potential clients. Even if you own a storefront business, networking will bring you more visibility and allow prospects to get to know you, as other business owner can become your clients in a business to business relationship.

Building your name and brand requires going a step further than creating a static website. We’ve formulated 5 effective and simple small business networking tips as a starting point for your small business.

Here are some key actions you can take to network like a pro:

Business cards: create business cards that will stand out and help others to remember who you are. Bright colors or your photo on your business card are great ways of catching someone’s eye.

Elevator speech: sum up your business services in 30 seconds. If you speak to someone while networking you need to be able to describe your business quickly or else you risk them becoming confused.

Appearance: as a networking professional you must look professional and well groomed. If your business does not require semi-professional wear or full professional wear now is the time to invest in some clothing to network. Also make sure your hair and nails are manicured, and you smell good (don’t over do any perfumes or colognes – major turn off).

Networking groups: choose networking groups to join that service your niche, geographic area and fit your budget. Make sure to be an active member. Just becoming a member is not enough. Being involved is how you truly build relationships.

Follow up: as you give out your business cards and collect them make sure to always send an email to those you met to say “nice to meet you” and “I hope we can catch up in the near future.” This is another form of relationship building.

SO now that you have these tips down pact, remember to always carry yourself as a positive individual, smile, look others in their eyes and give firm handshakes. First impression in business is everything!