Unlock business opportunities with online forums

By Hauwa Abubakar
Image: Human Resources Online

Running a small business alone can sometimes feel lonely. You know in a normal work environment, you have your colleagues to collaborate with or ask for help when you have too much work or get stuck somewhere in your tasks, you don't get to enjoy such opportunities all the time as a one-man/woman business owner.

There are some moments you wish you don't work alone. Yes, many small business owners choose that pathway to have some more time or because they want to work on their own terms. But when work begins to pile up, such moments can really dampen one's morale especially when you work alone.

However, it doesn't have to be like that. Thanks to digital innovations, small business owners can still get the feeling of belonging to a team or an office when they do their work with the use of online forums and groups.

Some benefits

  • To get Support (moral, intellectual, etc)
  • To Learn new things
  • To network and get new opportunities (new clients, new partners and even new coworkers to help with a project for a decent fee).

Image result for networking
Image: Austin startups
So, how can you use online groups and forums to expand your small business?
Maybe you want to create awareness about your business or you want to promote a special offer, online forums/groups play a huge role in helping you reach your goal. The first step is to identify the forums or groups to find your target customer or industry members. Sometimes, you may have to join these groups, other times, you may need to contact members of the group to be your eyes and ears while there or to invite you to join.

How to identify relevant groups or forums:
Google search
Social media search
When you log on to Google or social media, simply do a search for the groups you are looking for. You may not even know their names. You can, however, just type something related. E.G., "SME owners forums the USA" or "small business forums on LinkedIn or any social media of your choice.
It's important is to know the types of forums you want.


Step 2: After you identify the forums your target audience/customers use, find a means to understand how it works. Read their FAQS, read the About section, understand what the forum or group is all about. This would enable you to factor in, how you would use it to your advantage. (Don’t forget to read their rules).


Step 3: Identify key discussions relevant to your niche
This helps you to narrow or zero in on your target and know how, when to reach them. Certain discussions fit into your business niche. Follow such discussions, (trust me, this works for me all the time). Make contributions, and where appropriate, make recommendations. This is the moment you have been waiting for. Seize it! Share your knowledge, and let them know this is your area of expertise. And if it is allowed, drop your contact or a link to your website.

The discussants may not even be the ones to use your service or product, but your next customer could be lurking somewhere among the passers-by, the lurkers, the readers who do not contribute, or someone just searching for your service or product on Google and landed on the forum’s website.

So you see friends, there are lots of opportunities to reach your potential next client or customer online through forums and groups. As a matter of fact, I suggest you try this and see if it would convert better than a company page on social media.

Share your experience if you try these tips in the comment section and let’s put our heads together to see how you can unlock more opportunities online. Enjoyed this piece? Share and share away!


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