My martial arts teacher will often say "The bigger your network, the more capable you are" The translation from Chinese losses a little but it is still comparable and relevant. in martial arts, it means that you will increase your knowledge and acquire more skills with hard work. It means a little different to business owners but the principle is the same. The bigger your network, the more capable you will be at growing your business.
This doesn't mean that you have to attend every network event and meet numerous people. When attending a network event, try to meet at least one person you haven't talked to yet. Schedule a one on one and get to know them. Don't look for a sale. Just learn a little about that person. Share something about yourself and they will probably do the same. I love meeting with people from all walks of life, even if they aren't an obvious client or immediate lead for me.
You don't need to meet with people that would be a potential client or lead. Every connection is valuable. It would seem to male sense for a carpet cleaner to meet all the realtors, property managers and contractors. I used to think that was the only way but now just like to meet anyone. I find people very interesting and can learn a lot by just talking to them. You may discover that you have something in common, outside of business.
Nothing is worse than people, who see you as an obvious target, keep hitting on you. For instance, when I was a few pounds heavier, all of the weight loss people would always seek me out. Why? because when they saw me, they saw $$. I lost some weight, just so that they would leave me alone. Thanks!
Your customers can be the biggest part of your network. your network can also be people you meet at the gym, friends, family or just about anyone. Just like a spider web, the more levels there are, the better change of catching more business.