As the old saying goes, no man is an island. As much as the Internet has led us to believe that we could function separately just through a connected information infrastructure, humans, being humans, still need a human touch for long-lasting connections and long-lasting relationships to develop. This is true whether in the realm of dating and romance or business. This is very true in the context of affiliate marketing. Surely, you may be building your websites, compiling your mailing list and recruiting your customers on a solitary basis, but at the end of the process, when you want to find people that would help you with the information you need to do a better job marketing or to give you contacts in terms of a better affiliate marketing program, nothing beats networking to get you the information that you would need to boost your success. This guide walks you through the many different ways you could network online so you can interact with fellow affiliate marketers. By no means is this list an exhaustive list. The reality is that the only limit to the ways you can network online is your imagination.
Affiliate and Marketing Forums
Affiliate forums are a dime a dozen. There are so many affiliate marketing forums online. The core source of differentiation among these differing forums is what kind of affiliate marketer they focus on. They can be roughly divided into three types of affiliate marketing forum.
Newbie Affiliate Marketer Forums
The first type targets affiliate marketers that are just new or people looking to get into affiliate marketing. These types of forums have a lot of very basic questions and a lot of tutorials. They also tend to be infested by a lot of marketers that prey on other people’s naivete or inexperience. Be careful of bogus E-books that overpromise and underdeliver. Be careful of offers in the want ads of the buy and sell section which offer all sorts of services that either you do not need or that you do not have technical proficiency to full make use of. There is a lot of hype and overblown promises in entry-level marketer forums. Beware of and be on the lookout for fake testimonials and bogus reviews.
Intermediate Marketer Forums
The next kind of forum is the intermediate or adept forum. This type of affiliate marketer forum appeals to marketers that have reached an intermediate level of proficiency. These marketers already know how to market except that they just need to sharpen and finetune their skills to get better results for their efforts. But for all intents and purposes, they already know what they are doing. The good value in intermediate forums is that they can be a great source of information as to new programs that are coming online. They can also be great sources of news for new promotional models, promotional methods or important news that affect Google and other traffic sources. These can be great sources of information and should be sought out.
The disadvantages of intermediate forums
The downside to intermediate and advanced types of affiliate marketing forums is that there tends to be a lack of patience and tolerance for people that are just starting out. Expect to be insulted or trolled if you ask the wrong question. The wrong question might be an obvious question which everyone wants to ask but is to scared of embarrassment to ask. The wrong question might be a question asked by a newbie. To protect yourself from the annoyance and irritation of being trolled, click the search button or search function of these forums and see if your question has been asked and answered before. This would save you a lot of headaches and embarrassment down the road.
The third type of affiliate marketing forum is the blackhat forum. blackhat is a term that is normally ascribed to people that abuse search engines to generate traffic, but in essence blackhat can describe unscrupulous means of generating traffic. We are talking of shady and sleazy ways of generating business and gaming. Search engine trickery is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to blackhat practices. Some extreme blackhat practices involve phishing. How? This practice involves sending viruses to people so they can get infected and their computers would send out mass E-mail that would trick people into clicking a link that would collect bank information. Blackhat “marketing” is a slippery slope because it can start off with just people looking to cut corners and make quick money and easily degenerate into obviously criminal activities like phishing. Be very careful with blackhat forums.
Watch your back
Also keep in mind that you are dealing with people that have no moral compunction to cheat other people. What makes you think that the services and products that they are offering you are not as bogus as the stuff that they are selling to other people? At the end of the day, blackhat is really all about cutting corners and not putting in the work to do ethical marketing. We do not condone blackhat methods, but for informational purposes and for completeness of information, we have concluded information on blackhat forums. They are easy to spot and they are easy to find. However, you can also easily be ripped off in such forms because there are so many blackhat techniques and services available and not all of them work. In fact, in many niches they do not work at all. Use forums to your advantage to network with people, to compare notes, to get news and also to find out about products and services that might help you sell better.
Affiliate conventions are easily one of the best ways to make substantial connections with people. While internet communication has really opened us up to making connections and establishing relationships through impersonal and remote means through the internet, the bulk of real affiliate marketing business is still conducted through a face-to-face meeting. There are many conventions and conferences that facilitate such face-to-face meetings among affiliates. The biggest ones are Affiliate Summit and ad:tech. There are many more and also they are regional. If you live in a particular region of the United States, you might want to research affiliate conventions that are closer to where you are.
The downside of affiliate conventions
The downside of affiliate conventions is you have to travel and air travel does not come cheap. Also you have to get a hotel. Unless you are lucky enough to be invited as a resource speaker, you have to cover these expenses on your own. The good news is that these are business expenses and help reduce your taxes. Still, if you do not like traveling, this mode of networking might not be as attractive to you as others who would quickly pack up to go to the far sites of the earth to meet up with people or to get information that would take their business to the next level. It all depends on you comfort zone and your budget.
Other benefits of conventions
In conventions, you can expect to not only network with people, but also by visiting the different booths of the presenters and also watching presentations get crucial information you would need to help move your business forward. In meetings, you can network with people that might be able to provide you with products and services that you would need for your business. In seminars, you might get news and information that you would need to push your business forward. Conventions offer a lot of benefits. You just really need to have a game plan to soak it all up because one downside of large conventions is you will run out of time. You have to prioritize as to what kind of information you are looking for and focus on those.
Yahoo! Groups Mailing List
There are some affiliate groups in Yahoo! Groups that swap information through that communication platform. A quick briefing on how Yahoo! Groups works. Yahoo! Groups really is a communication platform where you subscribe to be sent E-mail notification when you are in the roster of particular Yahoo! Group. When a member sends a message to the group, every other member gets a copy of the E-mail. If the administrator of the Yahoo! Groups sends a message, all the members of the mailing list get the E-mail. The great thing about Yahoo! Groups is that it centralizes communications. People do not have to E-mail each other individually. News and information can be sent via centralized manner. It is very quick, very efficient and very powerful.
The downside of Yahoogroups for affiliate networking
The downside of using Yahoo! Groups for affiliate marketing networking is that many spammers use Yahoo! Groups. You might think that you are joining an affiliate marketing Yahoo! Group, but in reality it is actually just a spam newsletter. The person who runs the Yahoo! Group continuously just sends garbage messages. This is the wrong kind of Yahoo! Group to join. Once you receive spam or news that is worthless, quickly unsubscribe. The downside with Yahoo! Groups is that it would probably take quite a bit of filtering through the listed Yahoo! Groups to get the affiliate marketing group that actually is useful to you, but do not give up. There are some gems that you could pick up, information that you would need that might mean the difference between you making a profit with your business or failing.
Facebook groups work just like Yahoo! Groups except that the message is sent to your Facebook news feed. The great thing about finding affiliate marketing groups on Facebook is that there are so many people on Facebook, 900 million at last count all over the world, that your chances of finding a good and useful group is higher than if you are trying to find affiliate marketing group through Yahoo! Groups. Facebook is really at a treasure trove of tools and information you can use to make connections for affiliate marketing. Also the great thing about Facebook groups is if you make a connection through a Facebook group, you can then become friends with that person and they can then introduce you o their network and so on and so forth. You can easily blow up your sphere of influence through Facebook groups.
Beware of FB spammers
Of course, you have to be careful because there are many spammers operating in Facebook groups. Many of them just want people to click “like” on their Facebook fan page so they can spam them through fan page notices. If you detect this kind of behavior, unfriend those people and block them immediately. Your time is precious. You do not have time to deal with these types of shady marketers.
Related Link: More about marketing on facebook
Twitter can be a very powerful networking tool if you know what you are doing. The value of Twitter is not so much the amount of direct clicks you could get or the direct sales, although there are some businesses that are making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year doing direct sales on Twitter. The biggest value of Twitter is the retweet because through the retweet mechanism, somebody that is relatively obscure can send a message that is so compelling enough that influential people would retweet them. These influential people of course would have a lot of people following them and some of their followers are influential in their own right. If those people retweet you, it starts a chain reaction of people retweeting the same message and reaching a wider and wider sphere of influence. Never underestimate the power of a retweet. That is what made the Arab Spring and the Kony 2012 campaigns a reality. It can work the same way for your affiliate marketing networking needs.
How to use Twitter to network with fellow marketers
What you need to do is you need to follow Twitter users that are already recognized in the affiliate marketing space. Most affiliate marketers have a Twitter account because most of them recognize the power of Twitter. They are after all marketers. Follow a list of marketers and then send them @ messages. Engage them in a conversation. Comment on the content that they tweeted about. Eventually they will follow you back and you will actually have a conversation with these people. Keep engaging them, asking them relevant and pertinent questions about affiliate marketing. Eventually their followers would see that you know what you are talking about and that you are a credible marketer. Eventually they would follow you as well and then you follow them back. When you send a tweet, either asking for information or sharing information or networking with people, your circle of influence just keeps growing bigger and bigger. The key is to enlarge your online network of contacts to do more business.
Related Link: Market yourself on Twitter
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that affiliate marketing is not going anywhere anytime soon. It will be needed desperately whenever people need to sell something online. You are a necessary cog in the machine and paroxysmal atrial tachycardia yourself in the back. However, for you to grow you need to network. Make sure you follow the guide above and consider all your options and filter them based on your particular preferences and situation. Some networking methods may not work well for you. Keep tweaking and researching until you find the ones that do. No man is an island. Your success is in large part dependent on how well you interact with others and networking is key.