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Why Your Networking is Notworking

I asked an innocent question on the last Freedom in Practice training I ran: “How much business did you get from the last networking event you went to?

Your colleagues typed their answers into the chat box. The answers were universal. 

Zero. None. Some a while ago but none recently. Nothing.With answers like that, what does it tell you about traditional networking events? Alumni groups, local business groups, local bar association sections, whatever?

That they’re an unspeakably awful use of your time. If you’re going to take the time, energy, and focus to do something, why would it be to stand in a room full of people where the odds of you getting any business are close to zero?

OK, maybe you’re one of those folks who loves to mingle (that ain’t me). And if so, congrats on finding a great place to do it. But let’s call a spade a spade. You’re there to mingle. You’re not there because it’s a sound marketing decision.

What most people call networking isn’t. It’s Notworking.

Think about this - when you go to a networking event, who’s in the room? You probably don’t know who’s going to show up. You don’t have the guest list. And even if you did, I’ll bet you my recently unearthed 1st Edition Miami Vice soundtrack audiocassette that most of those people are neither your ideal clients, nor do they have regular contact with your ideal clients.

In other words, the whole thing is an excuse for people to feel like they’re doing something. Not actually doing something. Like I said. Notworking.

If you wanted to network in a way that, say, WORKS, then you’d do something very different.

You wouldn’t passively wait for an invitation to some event, then show up just to make yourself feel like you’re doing something. You’d take charge of the situation and find the few people who actually are connected to your ideal clients, and target them. Instead of a pointless, annoying, superficial discussion with someone who’s wholly irrelevant to your future success, you’d create the right opportunities for yourself.


Think: who’s your ideal client. Now think: who shares those ideal clients. Where are they before they need your services? Who else are they talking to?

From a marketing perspective, as attorneys we’re positioned further down the sequence of events that leads a client from point A to point B. They don’t start with a lawyer, they start with an idea, a need. And that’s a good thing. Because it means they’ve probably visited other professionals and advisors before a lawyer.

Which means we have a pond to fish in.

But there’s a big, big difference between lazy sunday fishing at the lake and the commercial trawler.

One goes out just for the experience. The other goes out to catch fish.

So the next time you’re invited to a networking event, ask yourself this - is this pointless, passive Notworking, or is this targeted Networking designed to get you more ideal clients?

Practice Alchemy Members: use the worksheets in the Finding Your Ideal Client process to shortcut the process of finding ideal networking candidates.

Raj Jha