About the Post

Lourens Pelser

Author Information

Lourens Pelser is an online entrepreneur who is constantly looking for profitable income streams to share with his subscribers. He is the owner of Nichemap.net and he will be adding content regularly for all aspiring internet marketers.

Forums and Relationship Building

Skepticism is the first general feeling the average internet surfer has when it comes to the prospect of running an online business. Several things lend themselves to this feeling: the anonymous nature of the Internet and any personal experience a person might have had. Is it any wonder that the average person is not very likely to trust someone, online, that they have never met personally?

That’s the challenge you face as an online marketer, to build trust as well as loyalty without ever being able to shake your customer’s hand or even meet him face to face or smile at him. But one very special way does exist where relationships can be grown and nurtured: in the forums.

If you can think of a subject, there’s probably a forum already out there covering your topic, so look around for the ones that are in your area of knowledge. Joining such a community gives you vast opportunities to share your interests and knowledge and to gain potential new customers. Most forums are free to join and most allow you to design a “signature” that appends to each post you make that can include your offers and promotions.

You can find a forum in your topic area by doing a keyword search in any of the major search engines. What is returned in the SERP (search engine results page) will be a list of what forums are available. They will be listed by popularity, according to the search engine’s rankings. The higher the ranking on the SERP, the more likely it is that the site is relevant to your search.

By posting in the forums, allowing people to get to the point of recognizing your name, you will establish yourself with them as an expert and someone worthy of respect for being an authority in your field. Being there for others who have questions you can answer is a sure way to begin a relationship.

People will see you and your online business as quite real and human when they see you actively participating in the forums. People like knowing that there is a real person at the other end of a transaction and not just an automated response system of some type. By being an active member of the forums, people will know you are not afraid to be available and accountable.

As an honest and likable person (and we are assuming, here, that you are), there’s no need to hide yourself behind a cyber business. What makes you likable and trustworthy in the “real world,” will translate quite well in the virtual world. Creating relationships in cyberspace is really not that different than in the real world. All you need to remember is that on the other end of that modem is a real person, a real human being, just like you.

Another point to creating real relationships online is transparency and being open. A nickname in the forums is fine, but in personal email and other correspondence, use your real name. Address your recipients by their names (if known) in a proper salutation at the beginning of the email or letter. Courtesy goes a long way when building relationships.

Besides selling yourself, you should have a product or something that has value that people will want. It will have to be at a price people are willing to pay, as well. If you go into a forum with an overpriced gadget, your reputation could take a hit as soon as people start complaining about your prices. You can price your gadget higher, elsewhere, but in the forums, it might be a good idea to offer a special discount.

So how much to charge? This is where you must do some serious research. Find out what others are selling it for and not just a few, but as many as you can find. From those numbers, you can extrapolate a figure that is fair to your forum friends and still profitable for you. You may have to make less per sale, but you will likely make up the difference in volume.

Everyone wants to feel good. You, for having made sales of your products and your customers for having bought them. This is a key factor in building solid, lasting relationships with your customers. Pay attention to them, help them when they ask for it and take note of their comments and ideas, things you might be able to use to improve your business and service to them. Your customers are every bit as much a part of your team as anyone you employ or hire.

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