Discussion forums are where like minded people can meet to discuss their businesses, problems, and ask for advice. If you have been on the internet for any length of time you have probably seen a discussion board, are a member of one or more or may even be a moderator.

These public forums are a wealth of free information and should be utilized to their fullest advantage. A discussion forum can help you grow your online business by driving traffic to your site. Best of all it is free to participate in most online forums. Here is a list of ideas that you can use to leverage the online forums for traffic.

1. The most import thing is to join forums where people have the same interests as what your website contains. For example, if you have a website all about dogs you wouldn’t want to join a forum that discusses world events.

2. Look for forums that get a lot of traffic. The more traffic the board gets the better your chances of getting visitors to your site. A word of warning, if the forum contains a lot of spam, stay away. You do not want to ruin your credibility by associating with this type of forum.

3. Don’t be afraid to let people know who you are. Use your real name and a picture if allowed. This builds trust. You will be amazed at the referrals you can get by word of mouth alone, once people get to know you and trust you.
Your subject line must catch a person’s eye. Stick to topics that are hot or create your own hot topic. You want to keep your posting at the top of the list for as long as possible to get more exposure.

4. Search engines will index many popular discussion forums, so you want to respond to postings with keywords or post subjects with keywords that you think the search engine will pick up.

5. Offer a link in your postings to something that is free and useful such as an ebook or special report. This link can bring people back to your topic time and time again to generate more traffic.

6. You should always use a signature file that explains your site and product. Make it brief and tasteful to avoid being tossed out by the moderators.

7. Always contribute something of value in your postings. Remember you are trying to build a business. The more valuable information that you can give, the more people will trust you . Trust goes a long way in running a successful business.

8. Forum etiquette. Always follow the posting rules. If someone becomes combative and you feel like you must answer, take it into private messages. Do not fuel the situation by responding with combative or rude postings. This will drive business away from your site faster than you can blink an eye.

9. Always proofread your postings before submitting. Look for misspellings and blatant grammar mistakes. And please, please do not use a lot of the “hip” internet abbreviations such as U for you or 4 instead of four. It may be faster but it really doesn’t make you look very legitimate. The only place this may be appropriate would be the popular gaming forums.

10. Last but not least, post on a regular basis. Set aside one half hour every day to post on your favorite forums. The more posts you have the more exposure you will get which will result in more traffic.

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