When a topic strand that interests you pops up, you can post comments or ask questions. It is a great place to learn from others, share ideas and tips, and to network with others. You really do not want to isolate yourself in your business, nor have an attitude that you shouldn't fraternize with the competition. The networking you do with others in the business can lead to referrals, partnerships, or simply learning something new.
Now, besides getting to know other people in the industry that you work in, you have a chance to work on link building for your website and or blog. Most forums allow you to set up a "signature" in your profile or at least allow you to include information about your business. When you update your signature or finish a post, add the URL, or website address, for your website and/ or your blog.
As people get to know you on the forum, or as people see comments they like, they will follow the URL link you provided at the bottom of each post to get to your site or blog, bringing some traffic to your site. Even without the traffic, your link will be repeatedly added for each post you make. Remember what I mentioned in the Social Marketing 101 article - the more links to your site, the more successful the search engines think you are, the better your search rankings. Don't expect overnight results. It takes time to improve your search ranking.
Also, you cannot link build if you just lurk. As soon as you feel comfortable asking or answering questions on a forum, do it. If you want your business to be successful, you need to take it by the reins and lead the way to success.
Here are just a few forums for the soap, bath and body, and candle making industries. If you click on the names below, it will lead you to the forum. Some forums are better than others. Choose ones with recent posts and friendly, helpful posters.
What forums do you regularly visit? What's your favorite forum? Got a forum you love not on the list? Please post comments.