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Ten ways to generate online business

©Judy Vorfeld

Discouraged because your site doesn't get enough visitors? If you want something to help you build a stronger Internet profile, try online networking. Done with creativity, stamina, and integrity, it often results in referrals . . . and referrals have very high value. Good referrals often mean new business. Here are a few ideas that may help.

  • Create a descriptive signature file and use it at the end of every e-mail, giving - at the very least - name, URL, e-mail address, and a brief description of service(s) and/or product. Sometimes called the USP (Unique Selling Proposition), this description is a vital part of your sig line. It describes the product, service, organization or person crisply and clearly. Once you have that sig line / tag line, consider some or all of the following:
  • Join interactive newsgroups that cover areas of interest to you. Print out and save the guidelines. Pay attention. Don't automatically hit "reply" when sending a message (some groups use third parties to distribute lists).
  • Participate in some groups by, at the least, introducing yourself. Interactive groups such as the Adventive Lists.
  • Contact list members privately when you discover something they've said that will help you, a client, or a colleague. Thank them for taking time to post to the group.
  • Contact list members if you've clicked on their URLs, visited their sites, and been impressed with that site/business. Let them know why their site impresses you.
  • Visit discussion forums. Wait until there's a question you can ask or a comment you can make. Always take time to leave your email address, your site's title, and your URL so people can easily get to your site. Most forums allow people to leave a graphic on the same page as their comments. If you have a small photo of yourself, consider using it.

If you want to use a graphic from your site, here's how (take mine as an example): I sometimes prefer to post a banner rather than my photo. My URL is http://www.ossweb.com and I have a sub-directory on my domain called "graphics." My banner is in that sub-directory.

Here's the way I get the banner to show up on the page with my message: I type http://www.ossweb.com/graphics/banner-sa.gif
If my graphic were in my main directory, I'd type

  • Contact competitors who have effective Web businesses. Praise them for their sites, and wish them well. Many "competitors" have their own problems and challenges, and you sometimes end up with a trusted friend and colleague. And often they have slightly different niches, and you end up referring and endorsing each other.
  • Offer to help others when you think you've read a legitimate plea for help, but only if you have both the time and ability to follow through. Pro bono. No one ever knows except the two of you.
  • Make time, when you find a site you really like, to drop the Webmaster a brief, friendly note. As a Webmaster, you understand the ongoing struggle to create and maintain an effective site, and the importance of unsolicited compliments.
  • Take time to say "thank you" when people make the effort to write you, asking questions, making comments . . . whatever. "Thanks" is one of the most neglected words in the English language.

Online networking takes time, thought, and energy, but it's worth it. Try it! Over 70% of visitors to Office Support Services and Webgrammar come from other Web sites. If you follow guidelines and use your words carefully and creatively, it could make a significant difference in your business.

About the author
Judy Vorfeld's operating system is Windows and her primary software includes WordPerfect; Microsoft Word; Microsoft Publisher; Adobe Acrobat; PaintShopPro; and Macromedia HomeSite. Please visit her website: http://www.ossweb.com

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