I recently had the privilege of participating in a mentoring session given by a senior partner in my firm.  This partner is a consummate rainmaker and he was sharing how he approaches finding opportunities.  In essence, he is always looking for opportunities to make connections with people.  He talked about making the effort to provide answers even if the answer is connecting someone with a problem with another attorney.  He said “the attorney will not forget that you provided an opportunity and will reciprocate eventually and the person with a problem will see you as a problem solver”.  He went on to say, “even if the problem has nothing to do with legal services, offer a solution.  If the problem has to do with plumbing issues, find a plumber”.  This partner explained these ideas in very simple terms.  Easy to digest and even easier to implement.
The concepts and approaches he describes are even more relevant today, but the techniques are changing.  

Today, an attorney needs to know how to leverage social networking as a way to become “part of the conversation”.  

While the Internet has certainly changed the concept of community, it does not change the essence of being a trusted advisor.  Toby helped me understand the notion of “being part of the conversation” as a differentiator.  His point, more and more people are turning to the Internet to find quick answers.  

If they don’t hear your voice as part of the conversation, they will not know you are part of the community.  

As Toby usually does, he started explaining this by drawing a picture.  That picture is elegantly displayed in my office and usually becomes a point of discussion.  It is a constant reminder to me and serves as an opportunity for me to educate others around me about the power of the virtual community that has come to be known as social networking.
Have your voice heard, get involved, become part of the community and contribute to the conversation.  Provide your thoughts and share your interests.  Give a little, get a little.