Internet Forums: The Place to Be

Posted by Brittany Higley on Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Community forums, like blogs, are the new place to “hangout” on the Internet. Forums are great for networking, which would benefit any small business owner, and membership is usually free. Once you’ve registered, you create a username and password, which enables you to take part in the discussions. There are a wide variety of forums related to small business, some general in their content and others quite specific, but the following are five of the best sites to see and be seen on the Internet.

This forum is definitely one of the largest and provides numerous topics regarding small business. These topics range from business planning, funding your business, to internet marketing. But what is cool about this site is that you can set up a “buddy list” to see which of your buddies are currently online. This allows for great networking abilities!
This forum is actually very similar to the previous forum. In fact, it is easy to confuse them. However, even though their topics are similar, there are some differences. This and the previous forum are perfect for comparing/contrasting information on topics. With these two forums you can look at the information in the discussions to make better decisions regarding what you should-or should not-believe.
This forum claims to be “the friendliest forum,” and they do offer something that the others don’t; “fun” topics. Along with many small business topics, this forum includes topics such as music, books, sports, etc. These discussions can be refreshing after the day-to-day grind of small business talk and if you’re looking for a nice break in your day this site might be perfect for you!
One of the things I specifically like about this forum is not only that they have constant discussion moderators, but they actually tell you who those moderators are, which shows their moderator’s credibility. These moderators answer any questions a member may have and they also make sure their discussion board stays clear of any spam. Another thing about this forum is that they offer an easily accessible area for members to make comments and suggestions regarding their site. By having something like this in their discussion board they show that they are really dedicated to improving their site and helping as many people as possible.
What I like about this forum is that it is embedded in a large reference site. Not only does Startup Nation offer a small business community forum like the others, but they also offer step-by-step advice and endless resources for any new and/or existing entrepreneur. Along with being a reference tool, this site is extremely well organized and extremely easy to follow. Anyone new to forums should have no trouble at all.
Now that you know of five small business forums you can belong to, there are some things you should know before you begin to post your content:
1.      Read FAQ’s before you post
Before anyone posts a message or starts a new discussion they should always look at the frequently asked questions. This is a great place to begin when you are new to a forum because they answer most of the questions you may have.
2.      Read the forum’s rules
Before posting, everyone needs to make sure they read the forum’s rules and regulations first because you don’t want to get in trouble before you even start. Remember, if you want to be taken seriously by others you need to follow the rules.
3.      Pay attention to dates
When looking for a new forum you will see that there are hundreds available. The thing to look for is whether or not they are still active. Every forum has times and dates of when a discussion last took place, so make sure the forum you belong to has active discussions on a day-to-day basis. Nothing is worse than having a conversation with yourself, so when you begin posting make sure there are other active members to talk to.
4.      Don’t advertise
One of the worst things you can do on a forum is to advertise your own business. Out of respect for the online forum community, leave marketing for your business out of discussions. These forums are solely made to reach out to others and build contacts. Don’t focus your attention on making business deals!
5.      Don’t believe everything you read
This is one of the most important things to remember when on a forum. As reliable and helpful as these forums can be, there are also people out there who may not be the most helpful or honest. When looking for advice or reading about a topic, make sure you read carefully and give what you read a lot of thought. Make your own decisions about what may be right or wrong.
Now that you know the in’s and out’s of small business forums, go out there and get started! There is nothing better than reaching out to others who have the same interests that you do!

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Brittany Higley

Tags: forums, smo, seo, social marketing, optimization, blogs, weblogs, small business, marketing, advertising, networking

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Reader Comments

Wednesday, June 18, 2008 at 9:23 PM
Gill S. says:

Good info! I've also found Yahoo Answers to be quite helpful, A) B/c there are thousands of people logged in at any given moment and B) B/c they have a pretty efficient system of rating and filtering the validity of responses.

Monday, January 12, 2009 at 8:05 AM
tia says:

Nice article.Thanks for the information

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Monday, January 12, 2009 at 8:06 AM
Tia says:

Thanks for such a useful and interesting article and information .

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