How’s it going? Your practice, I mean. Are you hitting your numbers? Will you make it to Super Starter, Quota Buster, Leader’s, President’s, Chairman’s, Masters, Top of the Table, Million Dollar Round Table, or wherever?

Heck – will you make it to the end of the day?

This past week, I worked with an advisor named Jason. He’s been an advisor for about two years, and frankly, he’s a bit clueless. He’s a nice kid, but he’s spinning his wheels. He has no target market, practically no natural market, and no effective way of describing what he does. I’m not sure how knowledgeable he is about his products, but does it really matter? If he doesn’t figure out the marketing component soon, he’s a goner – pure and simple.

I also worked with a financial planner I’ll call Tony (I don’t remember his name, but he just looks like a Tony). Tony is a 20-year professional and a conference qualifier. He’s looking to get to the next conference level. Naturally, he’s in much better shape than Jason.

Completely different scenarios, right? Like night and day. But you know what? I gave them both the same advice – five tips that will help them take it to the next level.

1. Know your stuff

New advisors, especially the ones fresh out of school, often ask me how they can be taken seriously as financial advisors if they’re new and look so young? The answer is, know your stuff. This applies to anyone new, at any age. Learn your stock and trade. Know all there is to know about life insurance, annuities, college planning, or whatever your thing is, and learn it quickly. Know who to go to with great questions, and when you hear a question you can’t answer. Put a lot into learning your trade and giving great advice, because with competence comes confidence. Your prospects and clients will be impressed by how much you know, despite the fact that you look like a kid in the mall on a Friday night.

2. Establish a target market

If I were the general agent or managing partner of a firm, I would make it mandatory for all new recruits to develop a target market. Without one (or two) niche markets, you are at a tremendous disadvantage. A target market is who you serve best, and therefore wish to serve most. It’s where you do your best work with your favorite clients. By the way, if you’re focused on working with small businesses, families, individuals, corporate executives, pre-retirees, retirees, and recent college grads, then you don’t have a target market. This is especially true if all of these segments represent your target market. Catch my drift? Focus on one or two of these areas, and get as specific as possible.

3. Create and use an elevator pitch

You absolutely need a communication strategy that speaks to what you do, what you know, who you help, and what you want. Repeat after me: This is not a sales pitch. This is a way to apply marketing to all your communications whenever someone is interested enough to ask you what you do. Your answer should never be more than about 30 seconds long, and it shouldn’t be so technical that it bores people to tears.

Here’s an example: “I’m a financial advisor with Building Blocks Financial Group, which is focused on helping small businesses with their financial management. I have expertise in a number of areas, including financial planning, investments, and insurance. I’m working on establishing a niche within the physician marketplace and looking to meet surgeons, orthopedists, and primary care physicians. I’d appreciate any advice on how to learn more about and connect with this marketplace.”

Pretty targeted, right? Of course, the shorter and sweeter, the better.

4. Develop a list of advocates

This list is made up of your raving fans who have an affinity with your target marketplace, as well as an affinity with you. They can include friends and family, clients, prospects, centers of influence (accountants, lawyers, bankers), and fellow networkers. Your networking efforts should be focused on growing this list of advocates while establishing better relationships. And how will you do that? Check out number 5.

5. Work your list of advocates

Set up meetings with the people on your list. Get to know them and their businesses. How good are they? What kinds of clients do they serve? How can you help them? How can you refer them business? Can you become friends? Go out of your way to help them however you can. Become their advocates, and see what happens.

You may have gathered that this is much more than five quick and easy networking tips that you can simply check off your list. See how smart you are? Here’s to making it to the end of the day.

Michael Goldberg is a speaker, author, consultant and the founder of Building Blocks Consulting.For more information or to subscribe to Michael’s free online newsletter and blog The Building Blocks to Success please visit www.NetworkingForProducers.com or www.TheBuildingBlockstoSuccess.com.