Online forums are a great place to meet people, learn things and, most importantly, build traffic for your web site. You can build heaps of traffic to your site by just following these few, simple guidelines.
Help People Every Chance You Get
Whenever someone posts a question to the forum, answer it. Challenge yourself to see how many people you can help in an hour or try and see if you can be the first person to answer.
Be honest and offer real advice. Don't just post a quick line asking them to call you for help. People who use forums want answers - TODAY. They're banking on having anywhere from 5 to 500 people on the forum ready to answer their question.
The better your answer, the more likely they'll click over to your web site!
Answering questions will help you to build a reputation for yourself as the expert in your field. The more information you give away, the more you prove that you know what you're talking about.
Don't be afraid to give a lot of information away. You might feel that you risk losing work this way but, really, you risk losing work by failing to prove that you know your business.
Be Friendly Towards Everyone, Even if You Disagree With Them
Heated arguments are commonplace in forums - learn how to express your opinions without being rude or insulting.
When someone disagrees with you, present your views and then, as Dr Stephen Covey says, agree to disagree, agreeably. Agree that you feel differently about the subject and then agree not to argue about it any more.
Eventually, people will come to know you as “the nice person that knows a lot about . . . ". That sort of reputation can earn you lots of traffic as well as lots of sales!
Contribute to the Forum as Much as Possible
Whenever you come across something you think will be useful to other members of the forum, post it. Let everyone know how you found it, where it came from and write a short summary of what they'll find if they follow the link or download the article.
This might sound like a lot of work but, in most cases, it's really easy.
You establish yourself as the professional in your industry. This really helps people feel confident about doing business with you. Confidence equals clicks and clicks equals Sales!
Use a Compelling Signature
A signature is the space at the end of every post where you can provide your personal information like a name, email address and web site address. You usually just have to configure it once and then it will automatically be added to every post you make.
People often use signatures to “advertise" themselves. The key here is to make it short and compelling.
For example, “We create web sites" is short, but not compelling. You probably won't get any clicks with such a boring signature.
Offer a solution to a problem or pique their curiosity with a question-based link. Make people curious or excited about what they'll find if they click on your link.
Here are 2 good examples:
"Are you losing sales because of these 10 critical web site mistakes?"
"Discover the secrets of online marketing with my free course"
As long as what you're offering is relevant to the forum or discussion, you'll find a lot of people clicking through to find out more.
Link Back to Your Own Web Site
Whenever you post something, try and find a helpful way to link back to your web site. For example, if someone asks a question on how to finance their start-up company, give them a tip or two, and then link to an article on your web site for more information.
This is called in-context linking and is, by far, the best way to build your web site's traffic and search engine ranking.
This works because search engines like Google decide how important your web site is by how many different web sites link to it! Essentially, by being active on forums, you're voting for your own web site in a very effective & ethical way. Bonus :)
By following these simple steps, you'll soon find hordes of people clicking through to your site to learn more about what you do and how you can help them.
Norio De Sousa runs a web site, http://www.free-websites-from-scratch.com , where you can find more information on building free web sites, search engine optimization & more.