As a part of a recently awarded grant from Sam’s Club and the SCORE Foundation, Kristen Sojourner, owner and massage therapist at My Aiken Body Restorative Massage in Aiken, attended an all-expense paid small-business development conference in Dallas, Texas.

The event, “Working On Your Business, Not In Your Business,” was held at the North Dallas Hyatt Jan. 23-24.

Its focus was on developing and applying marketing strategies to effectively enhance and grow business.

The conference featured speakers such as Ron Cates, development director, Southwest Region of Constant Contact; Rieva Lasonsky, CEO, president and founder of GrowBizMedia and former editor of Entrepreneur magazine; Terry Shapiro, executive director, Brand & Relations Deluxe Media Corporation; and Tom Patty, former president and worldwide account director of Chiat/Day and author of several books on marketing, most recently “Marketing Without Money.”

Each of the speakers discussed the growing importance and effective application of social networking as an integral part of a business’s marketing plan in today’s technology-driven world.

“It was clear from the discussion that, while old advertising methods have their place, marketing is no longer just ad copy and print. Smartphones and (tablets) have changed the way information travels,” Sojourner said. “Social networking has transformed the way we relate to each other and to consumers. Information travels through Facebook, Twitter and website blogs, and businesses have to be on board and visible or they will be left in the dust.”

Talks centered around ways in which small business can utilize technology to build client relationships and gain maximum exposure.

“I learned a lot,” said Sojourner. “I am so thankful for the opportunity. I have a new perspective. I was writing my website designer directly from the conference. I have begun applying new marketing strategies, which are already helping my business grow.”

Every state in the country was represented by two grant recipients. Sojourner was one of two recipients from South Carolina.

“I was honored to represent our Palmetto State and Aiken,” said Sojourner. “It was an outstanding experience.”