Networking has become an overused term in today's business world. Instead of networking, I call it relationship building. Your best and most efficient marketing tool is networking, building lasting business and personal relationships that produce positive results for your business.
Networking is efficient because the only real cost is your time. You can spend your non-working hours volunteering for community services, serving on boards, participating in community events and being involved in the school and extracurricular activities of your children. All of these activities put you in contact with others who may need the products or services your business offers.
Even though your networking contacts may not be your target customers usually these people will be a good source of referral business once they feel comfortable with you and your business.
The first and foremost reason for networking is to build lasting, personal relationships. But ultimately your business can benefit from these affiliations.