Pinterest lawyers attorneys law firmsEach time a new social networking medium becomes popular, people will discuss how it can be used by businesses for marketing. Pinterest, a pinboard-styled social photo sharing network, is no different. Laura Petrecca (@LauraPetrecca) had a good piece in USA TODAY yesterday entitled, Businesses pin hopes on digital scrapbook Pinterest.’ With its 12 million visitors a month, Pinterest is popular with mom-and-pop retailers and corporate giants alike.

Clothing retailers, wedding planners and graphic designers are among the swelling business crowd joining the popular social-media site, which lets users “pin” images of items that interest them to their profiles.

Pinterest’s millions of users create digital scrapbooks that display images under themes such as favorite foods, wanted wedding gifts and coveted handbags. Some users simply catalog items they like, others use it to organize ideas for projects, such as redecorating a bedroom or creating a wedding reception menu.

Members can use images they like from the Web or from other Pinterest profiles, categorize them in genres and share them with other Pinterest users. Those who click on the images are often able to locate the website they originated on. Members can also comment on those pictures. As the site has grown in popularity, so has interest from firms that see it as a chance to boost brand awareness.

Could attorneys and law firms learn anything from the likes of the following companies cited by Petrecca for their use of Pinterest.

  • High-end retailer Bergdorf Goodman, use the site to display images such as swanky spring shoes.
  • California restaurant chain Tender Greens showcases images of its chefs at work, as well as food served through its catering services.
  • Tampa-based wedding planner and blogger Lauren Grove uses Pinterest to showcase items that would appeal to brides, as well as to draw traffic back to her ad-supported website. 
  • Pinterest also lets members collaborate on bulletin boards, and Grove has used that service to share ideas with her bridal clients, especially those she can’t regularly meet with face-to-face.
  • Furniture retailer Raymour & Flanigan has even added a Pinterest icon to e-mails that it sends to potential customers.
Years ago, I blew off Facebook as a means of business development for lawyers. No longer, I view the Internet as an opportunity for lawyers to network. Even if it’s on a social networking site like Pinterest where it’s not readily apparent. An attorney using Pinterest need not share anything related to their business or legal matters altogether. No one is suggesting that you need to pin up copies and pictures of your pleadings, website, staff, clients, judges and the like. But could an attorney use Pinterest to share items they are interested in? My friend, and media lawyer, Bob Ambrogi, pens one of the best law blogs in his LawSites. Bob also publishes the Vintage Rockport blog in which he shares historical postcards from his town and the story behind the picture on the postcard. Vintage Rockport has allowed Bob to meet lots of people in his town who he would have never met otherwise. Folks contact Bob wanting to share what they know of the subject of a post card, in some cases the house they grew up in.
As Tender Greens co-owner Erik Oberholtzer, who uses Pinterest to to gather inspiration on what meals to serve, how to display food and what art would look good in restaurants, told Petrecca, Pinterest isn’t just for reaching out to potential patrons.

It’s not only about what we are sharing. It gives us access to find people and organizations that can turn us on to ideas that otherwise we might not have considered.

Business development for attorneys and law firms is all about networking through the Internet. Networking that allows us to build relationships and establish a word of reputation that we’re a good person who can be trusted.

If business owners, including attorneys, discover how Pinterest can be used for networking and have fun in the process, more power to them.

You need not feel compelled to learn to use every social networking medium out there. There’s only so many hours in the day. Focus on the ones you enjoy and that give you the opportunity to meet people you enjoy networking with.

Smart attorneys know that it’s not necessarily networking with clients and prospective clients that’s critical. What’s critical is getting out and networking in some form.