When I first started promoting my business, forums and online communities were really the only way to get the word out online other than paid ads on websites. This is still one of my favorites due to its interactive nature and the community building aspect, both of which are inherent in the type of industry I am in, direct sales.
A forum, also known as a message board, is either a website or a portion of a website where you can open a folder, (also known as a thread) with a particular topic and either send a message asking for help, or sharing ideas, or responding to other people’s messages. In your signature file you are usually allowed to list your business information so that everyone reading your messages will see what you do. A collection of several forums creates an online community that is based around a particular theme but then divided into subtopics. Another version of forums and communities are email groups such as those offered through Yahoo and Google.
Find a forum, message board, group or community in an area of interest to you in your non-business life, as well as some that are business related. For example, perhaps you have a particular hobby, or an item you collect, or fall into a certain regional or age bracket. Seek out a community related to those interested and participate in discussions by either answering someone else’s questions, or asking your own. There are forums on just about any topic imaginable.
When you have your business information in your signature (according to the site’s guidelines) your exposure will lead to new business. You never know when someone reading is looking for just the very thing you have to offer!
Try these out:
- Pro Boards Forum Directory – Search for forums, message boards and communities based on your area of interest.
- Ning Social Networks – Find or create your own online community and participate in discussions, share resources, and recommend others.
Do you have any favorite forums you’d be willing to share?