Networking has worked for me and the companies I worked for in so many different ways.
1. Ensuring I saw my clients outside of the office for drinks or a dinner meant we discussed issues outside of the projects we were working on together. One client mentioned their unhappiness with a project being dealt with by another company and I was able to suggest outlet company take it over. It was not my area of expertise but because I knew a large number of people in my company I was able to identify the right individual for this to be passed to. Ultimately this has generated in excess of 1million or 2million in fees each year since it was brought across (3 years ago) and is still generating fees today....
2. Knowing the people and the other departments you work with is vital to be able to offer existing or new clients the right service. To help this I was at my old firm part of a group which set up quarterly lunches for all of the lawyers and small focused lunches with 10 - 12 other lawyers at a time. Also because we had so many overseas offices we were in the process of setting up (as I was leaving that company - I was leading this initiative) ad hoc coffee groups of around 5 people so that whenever someone visited one of the other overseas offices they could organise a small coffee group and tell those people what they did and what clients they worked with. Through these lunches I met so many people that work was referred to me and I was able to refer work to others - difficult to put a value on this.
3. Through my contacts which I have, I got my new job!