Though some people find networking to be a less-than-pleasant experience, Cavanaugh L. Gray of the Southern Illinoisan says it is a necessary evil for anyone who wants to make the most of a small business opportunity. He says the key to making any networking event a success is to remember that there's an art to effective networking.

First, he says, be selective. Instead of trying go to as many events as possible and meet as many people as possible, small business owners should choose the ones most appropriate for their companies. Small businesses often go through similar troubles, he says, so it's best for business owners to consider attending events that match the obstacles they're currently facing.

Gray writes that it's also important to make the right connections. He suggests obtaining a list of attendees and studying them beforehand. Finally, he says, one of the most important things a small business owner can do is make sure they have enough business cards, since they usually hand out more than they expect.

If a small business is unable to network in the traditional way, the option of social media has recently presented a whole new range of opportunities. A recent study conducted by HubSpot found that social media is an efficient and cost-effective way to bring leads to small and midsized companies.

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