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"The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible"

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Tea Time with Liv

Are You Advertising or Networking?

You join a forum/message board and think YES! Great networking opportunity. Problem is you are probably advertising not networking. Do you know the difference?

Networking and advertising are not the same thing. Message boards are not for advertising. They are for networking. Networking is relationship based building customer loyalty and making connections in the business world. Advertising is promoting a product/service in an attempt to make a sale.

Do you know how to network on a forum/message board?

When you network using forums/message boards, you building a relationship with your potential customers and creating a quality business reputation for yourself.

Here are a few important tips on how to make your networking experience positive or you, your business, and your customers.

It is very important to read all of the forum board rules, before posting for the first time. Rules and Guidelines vary from forum to forum so do not assume they are all the same.

Your forum profile is very important, so please don't overlook this and not complete your profile. Try to be as complete as possible with the information requested. Forum members do read new member profiles. It's a great way to let others know about you and your business. It is important to make yourself a signature while completing your profile. Your signature will be visible with each new post or reply you make.

Post an introduction on the forum/message board. Your intro should give your first name, state if you choose, a few personal items such as family and hobbies, and a brief blurb about your home business. Do not make your introduction post an ad. It makes you appear as a spammer and many will disregard you almost immediately. Do not make a post before your introduction. Some forums/message boards have specific rules on posting an introduction first. Even if they do not it is proper forum/message board etiquette.

Participate in some general topic discussions. This shows the other members that you are there for the right reasons. There is nothing worse than joining a forum board and immediately posting a business dd. Its a turn off to members and some forum/message board admins will immediately remove you from the forum/message board. Forums/message boards are for networking not advertising so interact with members. Get to know them and let them get to know you before you start posting ads.

Every forum/message board is different but one thing is certain, if you are joining just to advertise, don't join. Advertising is not networking. Before you join think about why you are joining. Join for the right reasons and your membership will be beneficial. The wrong reasons you will be wasting your time and the other members' time.

Be consistent when networking. Set aside time on a weekly basis, to visit the forum board. Participate in current topic discussions, or better yet, start a few new topic discussions yourself. This does not require large amounts of time. I like to schedule 2 hours a week to forums/message boards. That usually translates to 4 days with 30 minute time blocks. Do what works best for you but do this weekly.

Watch how you speak to others. Do not use curse words or overwhelming business jargon. You want to appear professional at all times while still having fun. Do not get into ugly arguments and lash out. It makes others afraid to do business with you. You may say you are who you are and people either like it or don't. The problem with bad attitudes is you will create a bad reputation for you and your business.

Join forums/message boards that you like not just because they can boost your sales. If you like scrapbooking but you sell headbands, join a scrapbooking forum/message board. If you join a forum/message board you enjoy, your interest will continue and not dwindle when you are bored.

The key to successful networking is involves all of the above and more. By taking the time to build quality networking relationships, you will build a professional online business reputation that others will be proud to do business with. You can't network if you don't interact with others. Get involved.

Olivia Vidal
© 2009


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