Research your industry – for free

Forums can be an indispensable resource for your business.

Again, as with most online networking, they do require time invested into registering your details and opening accounts on various sites, but once you’ve completed that small task, the time and effort involved really do start to pay off.

There’s forums for everything and anything on the internet – business, industries, trades, music, games, clothing, travelling – the list is endless.

Speak to other businesses in your industry via forums to find out what they’re doing – are they offering certain services or promotions that you don’t?

You’ll find that most forum dwellers will be only too happy to answer any questions and compare notes with you, even if they’re in the same field of work.

Keeping in contact with other businesses in your industry, even if you post nothing in particular in the forum, allows you to keep ahead of any changes within the trade, such as new laws, legislation and ways of doing things.

What forums do your customers use?

As well as finding other forums for businesses akin to your own, look at joining forums which may be frequented by potential customers.

If you sell collector’s comics and magazines from your website, hang around in forums dedicated to that, and get to know as many of the members in the forums as best you can.

Just one review of your business by a well-respected forum member can drive extra traffic to your website in the form of potential customers.

Remember also, that when you join any forums, to keep your profile details complete and up to date, and include as much information as possible.

If you can, set your signature for each post as your website address, and behave yourself as you will ultimately be representing your business!

As with any forum, there are is some basic etiquette to follow. It the simplest terms:

  • ‘Lurk’ in the forum before you post anything.
  • Before you write anything, apart from your introduction obviously, ensure that this forum is relevant to what you want to gain from it.
  • Stay on topic.
  • Before you join a discussion, ensure what you have to say is factual and on the topic.
  • Just agreeing, or disagreeing and not explaining why does not constitute a legitimate post.
  • If you are making a statement of fact, ensure that if required, you can support this with some kind of evidence if need be.

Finally, have respect for the administrators of the forum and all of the other members.

Administrators are there to help you and make sure everyone else has an enjoyable experience in their forum.

They’re good people to know, and as above, a recommendation from just one administrator can drive extra traffic to your site in the form of potential customers.
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