A part of
Increase Your Profits:

Business Writing Made Clear

by Jennifer Hicks, CEO, WordsWork

Increase Your Exposure: Using Email Discussion Lists

Another way to gain name recognition for your business is to participate in mailing lists.

Mailing lists are subject-oriented email discussion groups. There are more than 50,000 internet mailing lists, covering a wide array of topics. Each list has between 10 and 10,000 subscribers. Although some are closed to the public, many thousands are open to anyone.

Issue #5

originally posted

Wednesday, Feb. 4, 1998

"If all you do is publicize your product or services, you probably won't like the results you get."

This means your words of wisdom can reach several thousand people each time you post a message. Great, right?

Well, a qualified "yes" is the answer. If all you do is publicize your product or services, you probably won't like the results you get. On the other hand, if you offer information, advice, or participate in ongoing discussions, you may find that your business increases.

Each list is unique. Subjects vary as do participants and discussions. However, there are some qualities shared by all lists. Each list will have a particular tone and local culture. The posts (email messages) will reflect this. Additionally, each list is similar to a community. It is made up of individuals who communicate to the larger group via email.

Specifically, an email discussion group is a list of electronic mail addresses where each address corresponds to a "subscriber". You join a list by subscribing, either directly for open lists or indirectly through a list owner for private lists. When you send a posting to the list, everyone on the list gets a copy. Each list also has an "owner". An owner subscribes people to the list (if it is a private list) and makes sure that the list is running smoothly.


Finding Groups

There are a couple of ways you can find mailing lists that cover topics of interest to you. You can do it by browsing through Liszt or via email. To browse listserv groups by email,

  • Send an email message to listserv@listserv.net.
  • Donít write anything in the subject line.
  • Don't include your signature file, either.
  • At the top of the message body, type: list global xyz where "xyz" equals a word that best describes what youíre looking for.
  • For example, if you send the command "list global disabilities", youíll get back a list of all known listservs relating to disabilities. (There are 23 of them).
For detailed information about mailing lists and how to find them, go to Liszt.
  • Make sure you send your list commands to the administrative address -- not the general list.
  • Read through the welcome note that most lists send to become aware of any policies about language use or topic restrictions that may exist.
  • Spend a few days just reading the posts. This is called "lurking". Doing this will give you a clearer idea of the type of community youíre getting involved with and what types of posts are and are not acceptable.
  • Sign your posts. Include a signature file with contact information.

  • Basic Etiquette in Email Lists

    Publicize Intelligently

    Contribute to the conversation. If someone asks a question which you can answer, do so. Your willingness to give advice sets you up as an expert rather than a salesperson. While some lists are no more than a collection of self-advertisements, most are centered around topical discussions. If all you do is tout your own business, chances are you'll be ignored or flamed. On the other hand, if you become part of the community and share knowledge and questions, you become part of a larger network--a member who may be contacted if there is a need for your service or product.

    Email lists can help you get your name to thousands of prospective clients. Make sure they get the right message.

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    Want to read more?

    Go back to
    Issue # 4,

    ahead to
    Issue # 6 - Make It Snappy:
    How to get people to read what you write!

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    Jennifer Hicks is CEO and President of WordsWork, a communications consulting firm that works with clients to provide for their training, writing, editorial, and research and communication strategy needs. Since its start in 1996, the company has experienced tremendous growth and has grown from a one-person show to a staff of more than 25 full- and part-time people. Clients have ranged from start-ups to companies in the Fortune 500. While their trainers, writers, and editors have expertise in a variety of areas including technology, business, education, and medicine, they are renowned specialists in communications for the healthcare industry. For more information, contact info@wordswork.com
    Phone: (774) 368-0514
    Fax: (508) 374-8389

    Text © Jennifer Hicks, 1998. Part of the original Sideroad.
    The new Sideroad is now receiving traffic at www.sideroad.com.