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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I know it's happened to you. In fact, I'm sure it happens quite often. You're working on a website, blog, or some type of marketing-related issue and you're stumped. You have some friends you can call but before you pick up that phone, you open your browser and start typing.

This is the way most of us looking for information today.  Years ago the phone was the first option, but not anymore.  The web is the answer.  Yesterday a friend mentioned the old "chat room" to me and we spent some time reminiscing about online communities and just how far we've come.  The premise is the same but the technology and depth of conversation has drastically changed.

If you're in marketing, you should really get comfortable with the idea of using Internet marketing forums to get answers to your most pressing marketing questions.  Chances are that many of the search results you've depended on are in the form of a blog or forum post.  This is because blogging and forums are nothing more than questions and answers, issues and responses.  
My suggestion is that you sign up for a forum in your niche and start engaging in the conversation.  Here are some suggestions for getting started:

1.  Google "[niche name] Forum".  For example, if you're in the affiliate niche, search on "affiliate forum" and you'll receive a list of popular forums.  Take a look around and register for the forum that best meets your needs.

2.  Watch the conversation. Before you start posting get a feel for the type of individuals who use the forum, the topics they cover, and how they respond.  You obviously don't want to break any forum rules or seem out of place.

3.  Respond to someone else's post.  Once you've watched the conversation it's time to jump in.  But do so on a topic you know something about.  Responding with a one-liner or information that's not relevant to the conversation can be detrimental.

4.  Post a question.  After making 10 responses to different posts, its time to post your own question or issue.  I like using the rule of ten because someone who's already engaged ten different strings of conversation is usually in a good position to ask a meaningful question.

5.  Become a contributor.  The key with any forum is to use them.  If you post a single question and walk away it's possible that you won't get much from it.  Remember that forums are communities and you want to be seen as a valuable member.  As is true with most things in life you get out of it what you put into it.

Now that you've started engaging with like-minded individuals via forums you'll start to see significant benefit.  Whether you have specific issues that you need answers to or you want to help others, forums are alive with dialog, issues, and opportunities.

Forums have advanced over the years and offer many different types of features.  These features may include premium forums that provide access to a limited number of people or special offers provided my vendors in your niche.  Not all forums are the same.  My recommendation is to choose few that you like and stick with them, experimenting along the way.

I have developed some very meaningful relationships in forums and I hope you do too.  Get started today.  The sooner you do the faster you'll have a growing network of people who can help you grow.


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