The Hidden (and Powerful) Benefits of Frequenting Forums Copyright 2005 Diane Hughes

While most people understand the benefits of forums from a "gathering information" perspective, many donít think about the hidden benefits of forums. The most common reason for visiting is to ask questions or get advice. That's a good enough reason to go, but there are other - more beneficial
- reasons to become a forum frequenter.

Besides providing a wealth of quality information, forums
can also be powerful promotional tools. There are three distinct ways forums can benefit you. And all it takes is a few minutes a day to help others in need.

Link Popularity

I think youíre probably familiar with the term "link popularity" by now. In case youíre not, it refers to the number of incoming links pointing to your site from other sites. Forums can serve as excellent link popularity boosters.

Each time you post a question or response on a forum thatís spidered by the engines, you get one extra link back to your site. Every time your signature (along with the link in it) appears, it counts as an additional link. Since Google puts a lot of weight on link popularity, posting to forums can give your rankings quite a boost!

Create a powerful signature line to use in your forum posts that includes benefits to the reader and your URL.

Establishing Yourself as an Expert

In addition to the extra help with your siteís search
engine rankings, forums also give you an outlet to
establish yourself as an expert.

Countless people flood to forums in search of free advice.
Give it to them! If you have the answer to a forum
visitorís problem ... tell him/her the answer. (Even if
this is something you would normally charge a fee for.) By doing so, you show the others reading your post that you know your stuff.

People love to be in the company of an expert, and they
also love to do business with an expert they trust.

Be prepared to give away some free, quality advice. Donít
skirt the issue. You wonít be able to establish yourself as
an expert unless you "prove" to others that you know what youíre talking about.

Getting Referrals and Leads

Forums have started coming into their own in the area of referral and lead generation. Because "lurkers" can quietly click through forums to see who has said what, they have the opportunity to get to know you "behind the scenes."

Be careful what you post on forums. You never know whoís watching! Be friendly, professional, and on guard. There are hundreds (even thousands) of prospective customers out there watching your every move.

However, this is truly a good thing. When you actively post quality information in forums, you leave a legacy that shows the world youíre good at what you do. Anytime this happens, referrals and leads are bound to come your way.

Find one or two quality forums that attract those youíd
like to do business with. Then put your best foot forward. Donít downgrade your competition. Be professional, friendly, and helpful.

The next time you think you donít have a few extra minutes
to "fool around" in a forum, think again. Youíll be doing yourself a favor by making the time. From simply sharing your knowledge and experience with others, you could very well end up with stronger search engine rankings and more clients!

Diane C. Hughes