Online groups and forums are places where people get together and discuss their common interests.
They also go there to find the products and services they need to solve the problems they’re facing, so it’s an excellent place to go prospecting for new clients.
Here are some strategies you can use to generate clients from online forums.
Discover Where Your Clients Hang Out
Start by figuring out where your target client spends their time online.
What forums do they use?
For example, if your target clients are website owners or ecommerce business owners, check out a webmaster forum like Warrior Forum.
If you offer photography services, you can join forums where people would likely be searching for photographers, such as wedding or baby forums.
If you sell clothes or accessories, you might join forums related to fashion.
Reddit is an excellent resource for forums on every topic imaginable.
Once you find them, join forums related to the niche or industry you’re in.
Check Out the Guidelines
Before joining and posting to a forum, check out the guidelines so you make sure you aren’t breaking any rules.
Most online forums have rules about promoting businesses there.
Others allow you to promote but only in certain sections or at certain times.
Many have restrictions on new users and a process for lifting the restrictions.
Before you make a profile, it’s good to know whether you’re allowed to put links in your profile or posts.
Tell Everyone What You Do
Create a profile that emphasises what you do.
Everything in your profile should be relevant to your business.
What do you want people here to know about you?
This is valuable online real estate for communicating your unique value.
You might want to look around at other profiles on the site to get ideas.
Focus on Helping Other Members
Once you’re ready to start using the site, join conversations and answer questions with the aim of helping others.
Use your expertise to offer value to other members with no expectations in return.
Potential clients will see your posts and check out your profile to see what else you have to offer.
Ask Questions and Start Threads
Although the main goal is to show your expertise and value, you can also start your own threads and ask questions.
All interaction is good interaction and starting threads makes you even more visible.
Your aim should be to become well known to other members as a helpful and positive expert in your field.
Keep things positive.
Remember the old saying; you attract more flies with honey than vinegar.
Give praise when it is due to other forum members.
Be supportive of other members of the forum, especially those asking basic questions.
Everyone has to start somewhere, and you were a beginner once.
Don’t say anything that could potentially show you in a bad light.
Take a moment before posting to re-read and make sure your tone doesn’t sound disagreeable.
You don’t want to make enemies here.
You want to be the champion hero who always makes a supportive, friendly contribution.
Stick to relevant topics and avoid anything controversial which could potentially upset others.
Spam is Client Repellent
Some people join forums and spam them, so you need to make sure you don’t appear that way.
Don’t post the same comment multiple times.
Don’t promote yourself, except in designated areas.
If the moderator thinks you have only joined for prospecting purposes, they may well ban you from their forum.
On the other hand, if you build good relationships among forum members, you will attract new clients.
Find your Market’s Global Gathering Place
Online forums and groups are just one tool to add to your marketing arsenal to help you find clients.
Join as many as you have time for, and you’ll quickly discover which are the most lucrative.
The key is to find out where your target market hangs out online and put yourself in front of them.
Make it easy for your potential customers to find you.
Then bring them into your world via your website.