8 Ways To Maximize Your Experience In The Solution Center

How time flies—the Solution Center is entering its second week! By now, you’ve likely stopped by to check out some of the discussions, perhaps browse the blogs, and take a look at the announcements.  After this, you might be thinking, What next? This looks like a valuable tool, but what else should I do to get the most from the Solution Center?

It’s an excellent question. Based on research, standard practices, and my own experience as both a member of various online communities and from years as a moderator and manager, I’d like to recommend some basic best practices to add value to your experience:

1.    Complete your profile—and add a photo! Research shows members with a complete profile, particularly those members who provide a photo, are more likely to receive answers to questions. Add that bio, post that pic. Show the awesome human behind the keyboard and you’ll raise your status (and, believe it or not, your credibility) a few notches almost immediately.

2.    Make it a habit. Bookmark the Solution Center and figure out what time of day is best for you to log on. Whether you are a morning lark or a night owl, or prefer to go mobile on the train or bus ride home, many find it helpful to have a portion of the day, even if only 15-30 minutes, dedicated to stopping by the forums to and keeping up with what their peers are doing.

3.    Maximize your chances for a response. The more context you add to a question, the more likely you are to receive a valuable, actionable response. 

4.    You can always go home again, and you should—re-visit your questions. If a community member responds to your query, be sure to reply, whether with any requested follow-up information, or even just a thank-you. Not only is this basic etiquette, but this also keeps the discussion going and invites other members to share their insight. Additionally, if you followed a member’s advice, please re-visit the discussion and share any outcomes and updates.


5.    Remember that a thriving community is give and take. If you ask a question and a member responds, pay it forward and help another member with a response. This, in turn, keeps the cycle going. You will then be more likely to receive a response to your next question.

6.    Also remember to stay away from marketing. While the Solution Center is a great platform upon which to build your personal brand, it’s not the right channel for building your product’s brand and, in fact, will likely hurt your reputation in the community. Base your responses on your experience and savvy, not on selling services. (In addition to being a best practice, this is also covered in our Forum Guidelines.)

7.    Connect with other members—be social. While the forums are primarily for discussing business challenges and topics relevant to the specialty food trade, there are plenty of opportunities to better connect with peers. Complete your profile. Take advantage of the photo gallery feature. And be sure to stop by the Introduce Yourself discussion and help us get to know you.

8.    Finally, keep checking in and contributing. To re-iterate and add to Point 2, the Solution Center is a living, breathing community. We’ll be posting blogs and announcements regularly to keep you abreast of hot industry topics and SFA news and events—both in-person and virtual—that are relevant to you. Other members will post questions and respond with their advice and a unique perspective that you will likely find valuable. 

I’ll go more in-depth with some of these in upcoming blogs, but use this list to get started and better harness the value of the Solution Center. Put these into practice and share what you do to optimize your time in the forums!
Posted by Andrea Meyer on Sep 28, 2015 1:31 PM America/New_York