Networking is one of those terms that have become very popular over the last decade. The main reason...the rise of popularity of the Internet. However, networking is a term used to describe many different elements. Networking can be a very powerful marketing tool that is especially useful for small business owners. This is one of those marketing tools that guarantees high return of investment, but only if it is used the correct way. Since small business owners cannot compete with large corporations when it comes to traditional marketing, they can use the advantage of becoming close to a pool of potential clients. Before I go into detail, let’s define networking. Networking is not the same as selling. These are two vital elements of marketing, but they drastically different. Selling usually requires informing, persuading and negotiating, while networking is all about meeting people and getting closer. When you are able to learn more about each other, this builds trust and people will be more confident in your business abilities. It is very important to understand this can be a long-term process. It is not enough to organize a conference, or to hand business cards in order to feel the advantages of networking. In order to use networking in the right way, you must take care of your potential and existing customers’ needs. This is a relationship that is beneficial to both sides. Networking allows you to build an expertise in your business niche. If you expand your communication and establish relationships not only with potential clients, but also with other businesses in your niche (or related to your niche), potential clientele begins to look at you as a advisor. They will begin to reach out to you in many forms: conferences, guest blog posts etc. Thanks to the Internet, networking has become easier than ever. It is incredibly easy to gain a reputation as the authority in your niche from around every part of the country. But networking doesn't just have web based. Try searching for local entrepreneurial, small business meetings within your area. Face-to-face networking will always have a given advantage over Internet based networking. Because let's be honest, people would rather see your pretty face in person.