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Online Forums & Networking

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 12 Jan 2015 | comments*Discuss
 
Business Networking Online Forum Post

An online forum makes for an excellent virtual community, one that brings together a number of participants all interested in a particular topic or issue and generates a lot of interaction on the website where it’s based.

Since those who take part register to use the forum, it’s not open to postings by anyone. Often those who take part will adopt user names, rather than real names, offering a kind of anonymity, although over time regular users will get to know each other – which is where the networking element comes in.

One thing that sets a forum apart is that it has a location, a website. To read the posts you have to visit the site – and the same to post, of course. Everything is run by an administrator, who can delete posts and ban members if necessary. Moderators come under the administrator.

Using The Forum

If you’re going to join the forum and use it properly, you’ll need to be an active, regular poster. Of course, the forum should deal with your area of business expertise, so you’ll make good, authoritative posts – there’s no point if you end up looking foolish, since no one will take you seriously.

That doesn’t mean you need to post every day, or even just add a one line posting; wait until you have something worthwhile to add. Also, don’t flame others – writing nasty, critical posts regarding what others have said. That won’t win you any friends, and could well lead to you being banned.

The more you can give to a forum, the more you’ll gain from it. Initially no one will know who you are, but over the course of a couple of months you’ll come to know some of the other participants, and they’ll know you.

How To Use The Forum For Networking

Forums weren’t created as networking opportunities. But like anywhere which has the aim of exchanging information and opinions, it can be an excellent place to discuss ideas with peers and others, and begin to build relationships that can exist outside the forum, and even translate to real life.

The question, of course, is how to move outside the anonymity of the forum. It could be quite easy. If you have a post discussing a complex issue, especially something technical, you could suggest others contact you directly and give your e-mail address – a lot of forums will allow this, but you’ll need to check the rules first.

If your product or service has a unique feature that’s applicable to the discussion, don’t be afraid to mention it (or the fact that you work for the company involved – in fact, that’s good full disclosure). Don’t make a habit of it, since that’s really a breach of netiquette, but at times it is reasonable.

Wikis

Wikis are a type of forum, but with the great difference that all users can edit previous content – in other words, they can make alterations to what others have posted, unless things are locked by an administrator.

However, to all intents and purposes, don’t even consider Wikis, since they’re far more anonymous than most forums and give no real opportunity to network with other users.

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Hi I am interested in setting up my own business, it would be on natural hair care, products and the industry.There is a niche for natural products, also there is a large Youtube following on Natural hair styles, and products.I have not seen any Black person sellling these products so far.That's my goal
keke - 12-Jan-15 @ 3:26 PM
Online forums are very much about sharing knowledge and they can be excellent places to receive answers to specific questions – all too often someone will have experience with what you need to know or can point you in the right direction. In that regard, it can be some of the most productive networking anyone does.
Peter - 24-Sep-12 @ 10:53 AM
I tend to use forums quite a bit to find out about the websites and social media - and how to use them in our business. There are a lot of knowledgeable people out there who are willing to give their advice for free. I give back by always posting whenever I find something useful/relevant too. It's not necessary to get in touch personally but you do find you come across the same users and get to know about each other's business
GrowingIt - 21-May-12 @ 6:37 PM
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