Most networking is a slow grind. Often, it’s a complete waste of time. No wonder many lawyers avoid it.

And yet, for some, networking is a remarkable tool for generating new business, new connections, and new opportunities.

The problem is that many would-be networkers target the wrong people or groups, people who are unlikely to need their services and are able to pay for them. They may also network with people who aren’t able (or willing) to refer the kinds of clients they want to attract.

I refer to this as “networking down”.

Many lawyers network “laterally”. They’re objective is to meet “anyone who might need their services” and/or professionals and business people who can refer them.

They attend general networking groups such as chamber of commerce mixers, and meet people who are looking for business but don’t have a lot to offer in return because they aren’t in their target niche.

Lawyers who achieve excellent results network “up”–with their ideal clients, decision makers, and professionals and advisors in their niche.

Not a cross-section of people who might need a lawyer or know someone who might, but a tight-knit group of top people in a niche.

An estate planner who gets a lot of clients through networking first defines the niche they want to target–medical professionals and their advisors, for example–and then research that niche.

They learn what the people in that niche want and need, what they know, and who they know. They learn the names of the influential people in the niche, where they speak or write, and where they congregate.

They create content tailored to the niche, using examples, success stories, information and ideas specific to the niche. This content shows the leaders in the niche that they understand them, have experience with them, and are dedicated to serving them.

They offer to speak to their groups and write for their publications. They find ways to get invited to their meetings, or network outside of the meetings by building relationships with members of those groups.

If they are allowed to join a group and attend meetings, they volunteer for committees, introduce themselves to the people who run them, and promote the businesses or practices or causes of the key people they meet.

They help these key people, or their clients or customers, and earn their favor. They network with no more than a handful of small groups and avoid wasting time with groups that aren’t a good match.

They focus on quality, not quantity, and giving before expecting to receive, and that’s how they get superior results.

How to choose your niche market and ideal client

Networking up