MoFo Litigation partner Alexis Amezcua recently conducted a fireside chat in our San Francisco office with author and executive coach Michael Urtuzuástegui Melcher titled “Your Invisible Network: Achieving Your Professional Potential by Investing in Relationships – and How to Do This in 20 Minutes a Day.”
A lawyer by training, Michael practiced law for several years before starting an executive coaching and leadership development company. Over the past 20 years, he has worked with business and legal professionals, from people at the beginning of their careers to senior executives.
During the session, Michael shared insights and practical tools from his recently published book, Your Invisible Network, and from his years coaching leaders of all backgrounds. “In my experience coaching, about 70 percent of what I do relates to communications and relationship-building,” he said. Relationship-building and networking are practices that most people are somewhat familiar with, but often don’t know how to successfully navigate. Michael knew he had the ability to write about these topics with greater nuance.
In his book, he singularly focuses on the importance of relationships and how they can transform a person’s career. During his conversation with Alexis, Michael noted that while merit and skill are necessary components of success, “Relationships are what connect your value to the world.” Networking is often viewed as something done to get a job; however, he explained that it is also something we must continue to do to add richness and depth to our jobs every day.
To start building relationships, Michael advised first assessing the health of your existing relationships to determine where you would like to see growth. From there, compartmentalize your goals into manageable actions that can be achieved in 20 minutes a day. Ultimately, smaller, consistent actions over time are more effective than one grand gesture.
“It’s actually very human,” Michael explained. Professional relationships are just like any other relationship. “It’s based on learning about somebody and sharing about yourself and finding opportunities to do things together and talking about things of mutual interest.”
To those eager to see immediate results, Michael encouraged an attitude of perseverance. “You are going to put time in before you will see results,” he explained. He acknowledged that investing in relationships may detract from other goals or obligations. “The flipside is that relationships can be a little bit magical,” he said. “You don’t know what you will discover.”