Talk the talk: How to correctly "network" and build your small business

When I started my business more than eight years ago, I didn't have any clients and I didn't have anyone in my Rolodex. I quite literally started from scratch and had to build a contact list. Hopefully you're luckier than me in that regard, but even if you do have a base of clients and contacts already, you are probably still looking to grow those lists.

"Networking" is one key way that I built my business from the ground up. I'll confess.... I hate the term "networking." It's so overused and definitely abused. But that's what most people like to call after-work mixers or breakfast meetings.

I did a lot of these events in the beginning. I went to Chamber of Commerce mixers, meetings for bar associations and CPA societies, morning lead exchanges, and lunch-hour "elevator pitch" meetings. I was always on the lookout for events that might have attorneys in attendance, as that's who sends me most of my business. But the events didn't have to be focused on lawyers. I knew there were plenty of other business professionals with fat Rolodexes who would be there, so I wanted to meet them too.