There's nothing worse than being at a networking event, meeting a super interesting person, striking up a conversation, and asking for a business card, only to have them say they don't have any so they hand you a sloppy scrap of paper with their coordinates.

I'm amazed by this. When you're self-employed you're your only cheerleader, meaning you need to be equipped to toot your own horn. You also need to be professional and have all the necessary tools to represent yourself well. Here's what every self-employed person needs:

Business cards. Places like Vista printing services can whip up a batch of business cards in a matter of minutes. They even have pre-existing templates, deals for buying in bulk, etc.

Website. Again, Wordpress has hundreds of website templates and will host your website for you as well. You don't need to have a lot of info on your website - it's just a central meeting place for those who want to learn more about you and see your work. Which is why you also need...

A portfolio. No one wants to weed through Google or a slew of attachments to see your work. Put it all up in one place, like a website, so you can direct people to this one central spot.

Social media. You don't have to be sending out posts every hour, but ensure that you have a Facebook page, a Twitter profile, a Google+ account (for Google ranking/SEO ranking purposes), a photo-hosting site (such as Instagram), and more.

A headshot. You have no idea how often I am asked to send in a headshot to be included in a magazine that I'm contributing to, to put on a media badge at an event, etc. Spend a bit of money and get a professional headshot done. It's a worthwhile investment, as you'll have a headshot that you can use for years.

A business plan. There are various templates on the web for business plans, and it will help you to not only evaluate your current situation but to also plan for the future. This is especially important if you're seeking out financial assistance from a financial institution or in the form of loans and grants from the government.

Jennifer Cox is a regular Suburban columnist and blogger, and writes for daily newspapers as well as national magazines. She's a social media guru, a Suzy Homemaker wannabe, and the mother of a 3-year-old son.

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