Participating in forums is a good way to get involved in the community. It's an ideal place to learn, know what's trending, build your network, strengthen your online presence, and even market your products.
Whatever your reason is for joining a forum, here are six straightforward tips to make it more productive for you.
1. Read the rules and guidelines
Forums usually come with a set of rules and guidelines or an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section. Before making your first post, make sure that you have a clear understanding of what these are. This will tell you how to properly interact with other people in the forum and give you an idea of what the community is about.
Reading the guidelines also helps manage your expectations. Because it allows you to understand what the forum offers from the beginning, you can decide whether to spend time on it or look for another community that caters more to your need.
2. Know exactly what you’re looking for
Whether it's to find a possible solution to a problem or simply to look for others who have the same interests as you, you need to know why you want to participate in the forum.
There are different types of forums out there, and if you don't know what you’re looking for you can easily get lost, frustrated, and confused.
3. Make your post as clear and easy to understand as possible
If you want to make the most out of forum participation, you need to get your message clearly across. Use proper grammar. Avoid using slang unless you know that it will be understood by most.
Make your post concise and direct to point. Avoid beating around the bush and just say what you have to say. If you need some sort of supplement to make your point easier to understand, do so. You can add links or photos for reference, but don’t make others download huge files or attachments.
4. Stay on topic
Avoid posting a completely different point of discussion on a continuing thread. Don’t interrupt. That’s just plain rude. If you want to talk about a new topic, just open a new thread.
The same goes for using a particular thread for a private conversation. Please. Just don’t. People don’t have the time to read your private concerns with another individual. Instead, Use the IM feature of the forum if it has one, or send a private message. If it doesn’t, take your conversation to other IM platforms or email.
5. Be patient
People usually participate in forums on their free time. If you have a question and it doesn't get answered right away, don't take it against other members. Chances are, the person who can offer a solution to your problem hasn’t read your post yet.
6. Show respect
Ultimately, respect for others is what will make forum posting really productive for you. So make it a point to thank people who helped you. Also, acknowledge those who offered solutions even if their suggestions didn’t work. They spent time trying to help you, so they deserve a “thank you”, too.
Be pleasant as much as possible when constructing your posts and responses because people can’t actually hear and see you talk. Meaning, you can be easily misinterpreted. So to avoid conflicts, try to write in a tone that’s easily relatable.
Meanwhile, if you have disputes with another member of the forum, settle it privately and don’t call them out on an ongoing thread.
Forum posting sure has a lot of benefits whether you do it for online marketing, finding solutions, or simply wanting to learn from like-minded individuals. So try make sure that you get the most out of it. These six tips will help you with that.