Part Two of a Two-Part Series How Online Communities Can Help Your Business

Last month, the networking and marketing benefits your shop and business can get from online communities (OCs) were examined. This month, the advantages OCs can provide for your own Web site’s visibility and prominence, which result in more exposure to motivated prospects and more leads, will be discussed. And the easiest way to understand the value of OCs in this regard is if you first understand the term “guanxi.”
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Guanxi (kwan - ‘chee) is a Chinese concept that describes a person’s network of connections and relationships, and it plays a significant role in your overall value and status. In our culture, think about the phrase “it’s who you know” on steroids.

Guanxi is just as important to your Web site’s prominence on the Internet as it is to a person’s social or professional significance. The more high-profile sites around the Web that link to (“know”) your own site, the higher your site’s visibility and prominence to prospects, and the higher it will rank in the search engines.

Here are OCs that you can leverage today to boost your online guanxi:

  • Professional & Technical Forums
    Find online forums that match your business’ technical expertise or markets, and participate. Ask and answer questions. And include your company’s Web site URL in the closing or postscript of each post.
  • Marketplaces & Communities
    Creating a company profile within an online manufacturing marketplace or individual profiles in an online manufacturing community not only create more links to your site, but do so from what are seen by search engines as sites relevant in context to your own.
  • LinkedIn
    Have employees of your shop join LinkedIn, if they haven’t already. When creating their profiles, have them link to your own Web site to expose your company to high-functioning candidates; and, as LinkedIn develops its Company Profile initiative, once your company gets one it will deliver even more prominence for your site via the number of employees listed.
  • Facebook
    Not only can your employees create their own profiles and link to your company’s site, you can create a profile for your company right now. Not only will the links on these pages enhance your site, but your business’ page here allows you to propagate your message to a collection of current and future young manufacturing professionals. Check out Facebook’s Business Solutions page to create your company’s Facebook Page and more.
  • Wikipedia
    You can create a page for your company on Wikipedia, including as much information as you’d like with links. But be cautious, Wikipedia has a very strict code of conduct that includes excluding any commercial/marketing content, so be careful to describe your business only in direct, factual terms.
  • MySpace
    Same as Facebook, your employees can create profiles for themselves and one for your company, linking from each to your site.

    Not all of these OCs may offer you the most return for your time, or may not match your comfort level, but creating links/connections like these can greatly increase your online guanxi, increase traffic to your site and generate new leads and business.