Networking is a powerful tool that anyone can master. Networking is not "rocket science." It mainly requires commitment, follow through and a willingness to be a good listener. Networking is an activity that Stephen Covey, author of "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People," describes as important but not urgent.
In previous columns, I have written about effective networking techniques. If you have heeded my advice, then networking has become a regular and ongoing part of your work life.
You have adopted the habits of successful partners at your firm (e.g., meeting other professionals for coffee or lunch on a regular basis, participating in bar association and CLE activities that interest you, getting active in a trade organization outside of the legal profession).
Your focus has been on building relationships and helping others. Along the way, you have given your elevator speech numerous times; but your focus has not been on selling your services or finding an employer to hire you. Instead, you have honed your listening skills and looked for ways to stay connected to individuals in your network.1
If the focus of networking is on building relationships, then how do you begin to ask individuals in your network for referrals? How do relationships turn into business leads? How can individuals in your network help you find another job? Other than feeling a sense of belonging, how can you begin to get mileage out of your network?