Formal and informal networks empower small firms to generate social capital by forging network ties, building on trust and sharing a vision among stakeholders. It enables them to obtain necessary resources, support, information and knowledge, which may be otherwise inaccessible to them. This study analyses the impact of social capital on firm performance through the constructs of network ties, trust and shared vision while drawing a comparison between firms associated with formal and informal networking. An empirical study was conducted via a structured questionnaire on a sample of 100 small firms in West Bengal with 50 firms having membership in industry/trade associations as the experimental group and another 50 firms having only informal connections as the control group. Findings of the multiple regression analysis reveal that the impact of social capital on firm performance is significantly greater in firms engaged in formal and informal networking in contrast to firms embedded only in the informal network. © 2015, © 2015 Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India.