For many, networking is like a visit to the dentist… necessary and slightly painful. One of the most important elements of networking is handing out your card. Yet how many of us walk out of a Chamber mixer and realize we didn’t give one card away! Ack!

A little online research this morning has led me to provide the following gems on how to get those cards off your desk and into the hands of potential clients.

In “Thank You” Notes to Current Clients: You don’t need to wait until November rolls around to send a thank you to clients. Do it throughout the year (set aside half hour on Thursday afternoons). Be sure to enclose more than one extra card for clients for referring business.

Don’t leave the office without them: Carry your business cards when shopping, vacationing, and running errands. Your next client may be right around the corner – I mean how many times have you been standing in a line, looking at a local business’ signage or products and thought “they need me.” They do. Give them your card.

Don’t forget those community bulletin boards in the coffee shop, the kids’ school, bookstore, church, etc. Yes, the chance of someone calling is slim but think of it as free advertising. One more place people will see your name.

Don’t travel without them: Just as important is having a stack on hand when travelling. New opportunities abound for conversation in the hotel bar, the hotel gym and on the airplane. Be sure you’ve got easy access to a card.

Face-to-Face Follow Up. Reduce the risk of “out of sight, out of mind” with your next meeting. Immediately after a meeting, send a handwritten note thanking the person for their time. Add once again, drop in at least two business cards.

Insert a business card when mailing bill payments. Another slim but possible opportunity. You just never know whose sister is opening up your payment. Never underestimate the power of networking.

The biggest thing is not to hoard your cards. Having a stack in your desk is doing nothing for your business.