Build Your Own Online Network

Many online business owners and marketers use a variety of tools to make their business successful. Good strategies include maintaining a web site, publishing an ezine, joining affiliate programs, advertising on other people's ezines, and much, much more. As any good Internet "guru" will tell you, getting your name and product "out there" is the most important part of your success. So, the general rule is: Use as many strategies as possible.

What I suggest is that you take this rule one step farther. What I think works best is combining as many of the strategies together, as possible. In other words, when you can, build your own network, using the tools you already have in place. And I'm using the word network, as it relates to networking your online systems -- not in the sense of a prospect or client network, though I have some tips on that, near the end of this article.

So, let's break down this concept. Suppose you have a web site that promotes a product or service. You probably have a sales letter, some testimonials and a merchant account, so people can buy your product. Now, what I would suggest next, if you don't already have it, is your own ezine (online magazine, operated by an e-mail autoresponder). You get visitors to subscribe to your ezine, using a pop-up or another type of FREE subscription form on your web site. Again, this may not be new to most people, but here's another spin on it. In addition to your pop-up or basic sign-up form on your site, why not add a page to your site, with a link on your home page, that does nothing but promote your ezine.

You see, many people pass up your subscription form, because they are afraid of SPAM, or they don't know enough about your ezine. Will it interest them? Or, will it just bombard them with more advertising?

A separate page can explain exactly what the ezine does, promote articles that you have in it, even give a sample issue, so prospects can see what they are getting. Be sure to have several subscription forms on this page between sections of your text, so people have plenty of opportunity to subscribe. Also, be sure that visitors are linked back to your home page, once they've subscribed, so they get back to looking at your product. Any good autoresponder will have this feature, which is crucial, because although you desperately want people signing up for your ezine, you also want them to read your sales letter and, hopefully, buy your product.

Make sure your ezine articles always link back to your web site, so you are constantly promoting yourself. After all, this is really what ezines are for.

Another part of good online networking is to set up affiliate programming, in a similar fashion to the aforementioned ezine promotion. That is, instead of just offering your own product as an affiliate program, set up a separate page on your web site for affiliate programs you use. So, you might have a link on your home/sales page called "Other Great Products." Obviously, you can use your own creativity for this title.

This link will take visitors to a site that promotes other products, for which you gain a commission as an affiliate. If you are unfamiliar with affiliate programs, visit ClickBank, the largest free affiliate program on the Internet. Most Internet marketers only offer their own product to people, who want to join affiliate programs, or they may offer just one other related product, with a link on their home page.

Plus, don't forget any other web sites of your own. Always be sure to link to them on all of your URLs and in your ezine articles. The key to building your own online network is to be sure you have promotional pages for all of your products and affiliates on your web sites and to link everything together. Remember, you want every visitor on your e-mail list, and you always want them landing back on your promotional pages.

One final thought. Promoting your business network offline is also critical to your success. Some basic techniques I use are:

? URL on return address stickers

? Business cards with ezine address and web site

? Fliers at community businesses and public places (be sure your community knows you above all others)

? Free seminars in regional communities, discussing my topic (remember, you don't need to make money here ? all you want is to get your name out there and to get e-mail addresses, so you can add them to your ezine list)

? Teach a class at a community college (get more e-mail addresses)

? Give free information away at community festivals, like Home Days

? Advertise in your local Money Saver magazines. It's cheap, and it reaches tens of thousands of people, who love cheap or free stuff.

? Anything else you can think of that get people to your site and to your ezine

Stay positive. Building a network takes time and hard work, but it's well worth it in the end.

Mark Barnes is author of Winning the Mortgage Game and several other finance books. He is also publisher of Biz Sense Online and Let's Talk Sports, weekly business and entertainment ezines. See Mark's work at www.winningthemortgagegame.com and www.bizsenseonline.com. To get Biz Sense Online, send a blank e-mail to [email protected]

To get Let's Talk Sports, send a blank e-mail to [email protected]

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