If you own a business, chances are you’ve had more than a few opportunities to attend networking events. And as a solopreneur, maybe it seems like networking events aren’t really for you. You might think your business is too small to participate in a large event. Or, perhaps you don’t see the value in spending a few hours listening to other people talk about their businesses.  But you may want to rethink your feelings on networking events because they have incredible potential to be a game changers for your business.

Here are 4 reasons you should take advantage of networking opportunities and how to use them to strengthen your business.

Put Yourself Out There

When you’re running a small business on your own, it can sometimes feel like nobody knows you even exist. And that’s probably true, to some extent. You may be doing everything right in terms of marketing, but unfortunately, you’re just not reaching anyone because your network is too small. Without expanding your network, you can’t grow your business. And you can’t expand your network when you refuse to get up from your computer and connect with the real world.

Networking events provide you with the unique opportunity to be seen and heard by leaders in your own industry. People who may otherwise skim over your name on social media will now shake your hand and get to know you. An in-person meeting is much more likely to produce an online connection that will lead to expanding your audience. Networking events increase your visibility so that you will no longer feel like no one knows you exist.

Expand Your Referral Network

While your online presence might be engaging and full of personality, there is nothing better for your business than the opportunity to make in-person connections. It gives you a chance to make a strong first impression and breathe some life into your brand. Those few moments of interaction with each person you meet at an event will provide one more opportunity for new referrals. People are much more likely to refer their friends and family to your business if they’ve met and established a more personal connection with you.

Build an Alliance

While you may be satisfied with the current state of your business, you can never really know what changes may be necessary down the road. You could outgrow your small home office, find yourself in need of an investor, or realize that you someone to share the workload. In those cases, it’s important to have some connections in place to expand your options.

Your best bet at making those connections is through a networking event. You’ll meet people from all walks of life, in various stages of business development. By introducing yourself and following up after the event, you’ll develop business relationships that could very well turn into join ventures, partnerships and investment opportunities in the future.

Get Educated

If you’re not interested in the interpersonal benefits of a networking event, there are still plenty of reasons to attend. Networking events are not just for making new contacts, but provide an excellent learning opportunity. Because business is constantly changing, the need to keep learning will always be present. You cannot thrive without staying on top of industry trends, technological developments and consumer reports.

The moment you stop learning is the moment you stop growing. And while it’s easy to think you’ve got a handle on things when business is good, it’s important to keep educating yourself. Remember that business will always have its peaks and valleys. Continual education is the key to navigating the everchanging terrain. If education is one of your priorities, then networking events should be non-negotiable.

Networking events tend to get a bad rap sometimes. In fact, many people don’t even consider attending them. But dismissing events where you can build your community, establish valuable business relationships and continue your education is a mistake. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to strengthen your business and promote your brand.