The dreaded networking event — sweaty palms, clammy forehead, and tongue-twisted conversation. These are the symptoms that often arise when checking into such social gatherings.

But networking represents an invaluable way to expand your knowledge, learn from the successes (and failures) of peers, and build avenues for new client acquisition. Small businesses need to use these gatherings as a tactic to build your client base and establish new partnerships.

Related Article: 7 Tips for Networking

Here are the top 5 benefits for sharpening your networking prowess:

1. Profile elevation

A profile is very simply an outline or silhouette of a person or thing. Networking is the process of filling-in that outline so people can ascertain a more complete picture of who you are. This profile elevation often comes by simply being visible and present in the moment, which is a key benefit of networking. Make sure you find yourself regularly attending events at your local chamber and other social gatherings throughout your community. This will result in leads and referrals back to you and your company.

Related Article: Preparing for a Networking Event

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2. Business leads

Networking provides a great resource for client generation. This is the most tangible and important benefit of networking. Further, networking through organizations like your local and regional chamber will often provide client referrals of high quality, thereby eliminating wasted time and effort.

3. Put the “net” in networking

Connections are powerful, in fact business experts remark that they are the “twenty-first century currency”. So, the old adage “It’s not what you know, but who you know” still rings absolutely true today. As a business owner, it is essential to have a trusted list that you can rely on to help solve your most pressing challenges. Additionally, the key to a network is the vast “net” which is cast. If a particular member of your network is unable to assist, often there is someone else in their network which they can connect you to – thereby growing yours.

MORE: Business marketing is no ‘Field of Dreams’

4. Mentorship

Delving into situations with like-minded business owners not only provides you with occasions to talk “shop”, but also provides mentorship opportunities. One note of caution which we advise our clients – make sure the mentor has the experience, expertise, and willingness to provide valuable feedback.

5. The potential

Along with discovering the right networking group, you’ll also be uncovering a dynamic set of potential partners that have the same drive, motivation, and passion as you. It is these characteristics which provide for an abundance of partnership, sales, marketing, and visionary opportunities. Take your time, get invested, and see where potential visions can align to have mutual and long-lasting benefits.

In conclusion, don’t see networking as any one thing or goal, but a myriad of varying avenues towards achieving personal and professional growth. Your network will be absolutely critical in helping you reach new aspirational heights for your small business, whether it’s pushing you to scale towards a market position you initially felt was out of your realm or simply inspiring you to work harder on a daily basis.

Article by Chris Lawson originally posted on