7 Steps to Savvy Forum Networking
By Denise Willms
For Internet entrepreneurs and home-based business owners, forum networking is quickly becoming one of the most popular ways to build online business connections. It makes sense – a business is built on relationships, and online forums are the best places on the Web to meet people, share your knowledge, and ask your questions.
But before you log on to the first forum you find and start promoting your new business opportunity, take a moment to brush up on your forum etiquette. Like any other social activity, forum networking has its own mores and guidelines. Follow these seven steps to become a savvy forum networker.
1. Read the rules before you play the game. Most forums have threads that explain how they work. Look for threads titled Forum Rules and FAQ and read them before you make your first post.
2. Get a feel for the forum by reading previous posts before you jump in. This will help you find the right place to invest your valuable time.
Who are the members? Do they discuss issues that interest you? As a writer and a mother, I look for forums that discuss writing and the challenges of being a work at home mom.
Do you have the answers they’re looking for? If you have the expertise that the members need, you can make a valuable contribution to the community and build your reputation as an expert in your field.
Forum networking is also one of the best ways to learn about your ideal client. Join some of the forums your target market frequents and you’ll learn what’s really on their minds.
3. Once you’ve found a forum you like, take the time to introduce yourself. Look for an Introduce Yourself thread, or something similar. Share who you are and what you do. Let the other members know you’ve joined their group and that you look forward to getting to know them.
4. Don’t mistake “telling them what you do” for “advertise your business.” Ads are not welcome in any your forum posts, and they make a particularly bad impression in your introduction. Look for a thread called Ads and save your promotional material for that thread only.
5. No ad you post will ever be as persuasive as engaging in meaningful conversation with the other forum members. Let others get to know you through your friendly and informative posts, and you will win their trust and loyalty for your business.
6. Place a link to your website in your signature and add your signature to the end of each of your posts. Here is where you get to advertise your newsletter, describe your latest business opportunity, brag about your newest e-book. If you’ve made an interesting and helpful comment, other forum members will be tempted to click on the link and learn more about your business.
7. Spend some time every day visiting each of the forums you participate in. Create a folder of forums in your browser’s Favorites folder to help you keep track. It’s a good personal goal to submit an informative post and welcome a few new members each time you visit.
Combine your informative posts and signature with regular visits, and you’ll be well on your way to building your network and making friends online.