Yesterday morning I was meeting with about 25 lawyers from a good Southern California law firm. The topic of discussion was how to use today’s tools to network through the Internet for business development.

We covered a lot of ground in 90 minutes, but the topic which generated the most give and take was Facebook.

A few of the lawyers appreciated how Facebook could be used to enhance relationships with other lawyers, business professionals, and referral sources.

Most were skeptical and a few said, “I don’t think so.”

One lawyer had tried Facebook, but did not like the fact that others could tag him in a picture or post without his approval. The result being a mention of what someone else said on his page. So he deleted his Facebook account.

There may be settings to control that and I am virtually certain such a tag may be deleted. I am not even certain that the content posted by the third party displays on your homepage. Nonetheless, I understand the concern and his decision.

Another lawyer would not use Facebook because of the nature of her practice. She did bankruptcy work and feared that friending executives and in-house counsel on Facebook would, in the case of debtors, indicate that their company was struggling.

I opened up my Facebook newsfeed to quickly scroll through what my friends were sharing on Sunday morning. I thought that the easiest way for the group to get a feel for the people I am friends with, what they share, and how relationships could be strengthened as a result.

Who did I see? What did I learn? How were relationships strengthened?

  • Euan Semple, a management consultant and author, previously with the BBC. Semple was sharing a personal item from Sunday afternoon in Scotland, where he lives and works. My getting to know Semple has taken what I learn from him on social media to a whole new level.
  • Charley Moore, CEO and founder of Rocket Lawyer, a Google Ventures’ backed company bringing access to the law in ways we have not seen before, sharing more sports/coaching pictures of his kids. The greatest thing Charlie and I have in common, in addition to our founding companies, is our love of baseball, especially coaching our kids. My days are over, Charlie’s still living it, but it’s what we talk about
  • Mark Britton, CEO and founder of Avvo, sharing the effects of a 7 hour flight on one of his kids. This tells me that the next time I talk to Mark I ought ask him about his family vacation, apparently overseas.
  • Dave Winer, technologist and entrepreneur, sharing news on social issues with a personal flare. Winer, over the past 15 years, has done as much for blogging as anyone. My exchanges with Winer on Facebook have allowed me to get to know him and line up a lunch with him on my next visit to New York City, where we were both born, the next time I am there.
  • Bruce Johnson, a Seattle First Amendment and Advertising Law Attorney Davis Wright Tremaine, who was sharing pictures with his wife from Budapest. Certainly a good conversation topic for our Mariners’ game this year. It was at a game last year that Johnson, who is one the shrinking number of lawyers out there as old as I, opened my eyes to Facebook when he explained how he began using Facebook in 2008 to connect with clients and give them shout outs for the good things they were doing.

These are just a few of the folks I scrolled through. But I can tell you that each post I displayed from yesterday morning was from a business professional I was very glad to be getting to know better.

Facebook need not be for the sharing of legal news and information for Facebook to work for business development by lawyers.

Life and business is about relationships. Everyone, including your clients, prospective clients, and referral sources, like to work with the people they know and that they like.

Facebook is a perfect fit for strengthening those friendships and relationships.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Robert Scoble