How many online forums do you subscribe to?  And within your list, how many are you a regular contributor to?  Forums can be extremely useful as a way of building your personal brand in that particular sector. Whilst it can be time consuming to read and respond to postings, it is an easy way to start to infiltrate almost subconsciously into the minds of the users.

Here’s what I have learned about online forums:
1. Make sure you change the settings options to receive the daily digest if possible, so that you don’t get interrupted by loads of emails during the business day, and you can scan the summary much more quickly.
2. Always include your signature file at the end of any postings, so that people can link from the posting to your website if they are interested.
3. Provide helpful advice so that you become known as a “giver”.
4. Make sure your responses are clear and concise – otherwise people are likely to not read it if its rambling.
5. Think about using forums to attract interest in your business by asking for input or ideas on something you are developing. I recently posted a message on a forum asking for best practice in recruiting facilitators, and was then flooded with CVs from applicants who took the initiative just in case we were recruiting! Whilst this was not exactly what I wanted, it was also very useful as we will be recruiting soon so I have an instant candidate list.

Now carry out a quick test:  Think about an online forum you subscribe to.  Think about any first person that comes to mind in relation to that forum. Check to see if their postings follow tips 2 – 4 above.  Then marvel at how they have built brand awareness already in your mind…. and then try it for yourself.