As I look back over the last year and the growth of my design business and this site, I can point to one thing that made the most impact: participation in forums. I am not a big time forum participant. In fact, I’ve only regularly participated in two forums, but the contacts made there, and the networking opportunities have made all the difference in the opportunities to grow this blog and my business.

Last January, after visiting around to multiple forums, I joined the MomGadget forum, which recently closed, started by the lovely Gayla McCord. I got to know Char Polanosky through that forum, who is also in the design business and whose blog was a great model to follow as I began blogging here at this site. Through Char, and others in that forum I learned a lot, began to get some decent design work and had opportunities to cross promote through similar niche blogs.

This summer, I was invited to join a private Performancing forum whose members included a list of big shot bloggers like Chris Garrett and Ryan Caldwell. The idea was to share high-level tips, tools and to coordinate efforts wherever it made sense. The benefits of being involved in the Performancing Hive have been phenomenal. Besides the growth in my design business, the opportunity to network with such experienced bloggers has been great. The group supports each other through promotion of posts in social media sites, brainstorming, link exchanges, and just helping each other out in general.

Beyond just an encouragement to participate in forums I am writing this post to announce that the Performancing Hive has been opened up to the public! If you’ve spent much time in forums, you know that trolls and spammers are a BIG problem. So, to keep them out, the Hive does cost $10 a month to join. If it were any other forum, I certainly would be reluctant to pay a fee to participate, but this one is different. Check it out!

Do you participate in forums? Have you experienced the same benefits from the time spent there?