With all the marketing discussion about content, content marketing, getting people to see your content and measuring the ROI on your content, you’d think legal marketing on the Internet revolved around content.

It doesn’t. The Internet and developing business via the Internet for lawyers, at least when used most effectively, is about communication and networking.

The Internet was conceived in the 1960s to enable multiple computers (people) to communicate on a single network.

The Internet came of age for Americans in the 1990s with bulletin boards, Usenet groups, listservs and American Online, with its message boards.

Popular sites on the early Internet included the likes of the Motley Fool (investor’s community) and iVillage (women’s community).

AOL and its founder, Steve Case, were spearheading the Greenhouse project where entrepreneurs would be given $300,000 to launch communities similar to David and Tom Gardner’s Motley Fool. John Hagel’s book, “Net Gain: Expanding Markets Through Virtual Communities,” was the model for such marketing by networking through the Internet.

Legal came of age online during this time in the same fashion. Thousands and thousands of people were asking and answering questions on six sets of multiple message boards on AOL. Only a few of us, as lawyers, participated. The lawyers who did built a name and relationships — and as a reult grew their book of business.

The public and lawyers were also widely participating on Usenet groups, especially on subjects such as immigration.

What did all of this have in common? Communication.

Content, in the form of an article, was an afterthought on AOL. There were folders where people could upload pieces. I remember finding a piece from a doctor on the residual impact of a temporomandibular joint injury. It was fantastic. But I found the article as a result of exchanges on a message board.

Business development for good lawyers begins and ends with building a name and building relations. It’s done via communicating and networking.

Strange thing that the Internet was conceived for communicating and networking.

So use it. Content, sure. But realize content is just a vehicle to enable communicating and networking, not the end goal.