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Using Internet Discussion Boards
to Advance Your Business

by Eileen Coale

I started a freelance copywriting business about 2-1/2 years ago, and have built my business primarily by networking. About five months ago, however, I bumbled upon a marketing method that, although I'm sure is not new to a lot of Internet-savvy folks, was a "eureka" moment for me.

In an effort to continue to learn and grow, I began reading and participating in the conversations on Internet discussion boards. First I started with general writers' boards, then copywriters' and small business owners' boards. When I wanted to better understand the issues that graphic and Web designers face (because I often team up with them for projects), I sought out discussion boards for those industries as well.

Then it began to happen this "viral marketing" everyone is talking about. I began to get occasional inquiries about my services. Editors of online publications saw my posts, and I was interviewed for several online publications, which sent more traffic to my Website. By the time the most recent interview appeared online this summer, I was launching an e-zine, and picked up a bunch of subscribers from that interview. Based on a discussion board post, I was put on the short list (though not ultimately chosen) as a success story for an upcoming edition of a major industry source book.

Discussion boards are just a relaxing way for me to engage in conversation with others in business, to learn from them, and to contribute. It hasn't been a calculated marketing method for me; I don't do it to sell myself. When permitted, I'll use a signature that leads to the e-zine signup page on my Website. But even on boards where self-promotion is not allowed, I get private messages from prospects asking about my services. I can only imagine what might happen if I got really organized about all this.

My next step in taking advantage of the synergistic viral marketing cycle will be to submit articles to article banks and on-line publications that offer a link back to my site. This will enable me to further promote my e-zine, which will ultimately bring in more business.

Fellow copywriters sometimes ask me which discussion boards I participate on. But thatıs my little secret. If you knew of one of the best fishing holes in town, would you tell anyone? Anybody can find one to his or her liking--just Google the phrase "discussion board" and the industry you're looking for. Or seek out discussion boards in industries that complement your field, but where you wonıt really be competing with others in your industry. Then just dive in and enjoy the conversation.

© 2004 by Eileen Coale. Eileen says she was "born with a yellow #2 pencil tucked behind my right ear," clearly destined to be a writer. She launched Coale Communications in 2002 and today helps business owners, consultants, sales professionals and others find the right words.

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