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What Not to Do

We've tried to give you an idea of what to do when searching for customers online. Nearly as important is what not to do.

  • Don't knock the competition in your posts. It makes you look unprofessional and could backfire. No one is perfect (including you), and chances are if you rip someone, they'll find a way to rip you right back.

  • Never overdo your posts. One small post several times a week is plenty. Excessive posting will almost guarantee your writing something that can garner negative feedback.

  • Be careful when posting about new items. Do you actually have them in stock? A lot of companies jump the gun to grab an audience on a new item not yet in stock. Think about the people who will contact you by phone, especially if you don't have an 800 number. Long-distance callers will not be happy when they find the item is not yet in.

  • Stay away from those UPPER-CASE ASSAULTS. You can use upper-case letters here and there, but an all-upper-case advertisement on the Net is like an annoying television commercial with a screaming salesman. It also makes you look inexperienced with the Internet.

  • Don't overdo it when cross-posting. If you want to get your message out to a number of related newsgroups, be careful when you cross-post. If you are selling baseball cards, there's no need to plug your shop through 30 different baseball-related newsgroups. People often join many similar groups, and you don't want them running into the same advertisement everywhere they look.

  • Do not plug or push anything that is related to your business in a newsgroup that has nothing to do with your business.

  • Don't come across as biased and don't get into feuds with anyone in the newsgroups. If you disagree with someone's opinion on a specific topic, it's best to stay out of it.

  • Don't lie. Don't post high praise about your store while trying to keep your affiliation secret. Savvy Net users will immediately associate your email address with your Web site, and you'll look like a dishonest fool.

  • Avoid posting lengthy price lists in newsgroups, especially those not set up for buying or trading. This is what your Web site is for, so there's no need to force-feed your inventory to other users.

  • Don't waste time chatting. Chat rooms are generally a waste of time unless you are the guest.

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