"People are feeling better, which has helped open the markets and made private equity fundraising much more robust," reports Terrence Mullen (pictured) of Arsenal Capital Partners, one of several firms that have raised successful funds in recent months. (Scroll down or click here forour video conversation with Mullen.)

The optimism about M&A that middle-market dealmakers have been expressing in our monthly surveys also seems to be shared by limited partners, who are returning to the asset class. The result is the most vibrant climate for fundraising we've seen in years. In 2013, 873 private equity funds reached a final close for a combined $454 billion globally, the highest raised since 2008, according to Peqin. Here are five winning fundraising strategies.

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