When you join an online community to make it work you will need to practice a high level of participation. When you are actively involved in your online community, it will really pay off in a big way by making you closer to your audience and then closer to you. You and your members can become an awesome resource to each other, each sharing and helping one another.
When you become part of an online community, start out on the right foot by introducing yourself according to the rules of the group. Most online communities have rules that prohibit sharing of URLs or blatant advertising, but most allow you to introduce yourself to get started, be yourself and don’t try and sell anything.
Ask Leading Questions
Once you’ve been properly introduced, start asking leading questions to get the discussions going in the group. This is a good way to get to know each other as well as to get to know your audience. When people answer your question, be sure to comment back and thank them and add to the discussion by doing so you can develop some pretty in-depth discussions that pull in lots of members.
When other people ask questions that you know the answer to, be sure that you answer the questions honestly and openly, without any intention of selling them anything. Give of yourself freely and you will end up with a large return on investment but do be warned, I’ve answered questions and the person asking the question didn’t like my answer but they are the breaks, if you are honest and open it rarely happens, but it can.
Comment on Stories
When other people introduce themselves or tell a story, be sure to comment on them and share you opinion. If the community often posts informative articles, be sure to comment on those too and to point them out to others in the group for reading.
Create a Good Signature Line
Most community groups allow you to have some type of signature line that has a link back to your website. Be sure to provide a specialized link just for that group that goes to a dedicated web page and offers specials for group members. By doing so you can really personalized the web page to suit your community and close more sales.
Complete your Profile
Most online communities have a profile area, make sure to upload a nice headshot, and to fill out the entire profile as fully as you can. That way when someone wants to learn more about you they can easily do so and you’ll reap the rewards.
Invite New Members
When you know that the community would be a good fit for someone you know, share the group with them and invite them to join. Bringing in new people to the community keeps the community alive and fresh and provides lots of fresh ideas and engagement.
Become a Resource to Others
Never be afraid to be an open book resource within your area of your expertise. If you want to be known as an expert, show that expertise within your answers and why you share with others.
Start a Subgroup
Once you’ve become well known and people start coming to you more and more, see if you can start a subgroup inside the group. Ask for permission before doing that, but it might be of help to the group owner if you don’t own the whole group.
If you make it your goal to do everything on this list over a period of time, you’ll notice something amazing things start to happen. You’ll notice that you’ve built real relationships with the people in the group, and that they are referring you to potential clients and you are potentially referring some of them to clients too. It’s a two-way street when you are part of a community. The fact that it is online doesn’t mean it’s not real, in fact some of the people I seek advice from now, I first met in an online community years ago, relationships are real so give them the respect they deserve.