You have a lot of general contractor knowledge, but you also know a lot about your community simply by living there. Contributing to a community website by answering and posting is useful and helps you stand out among your peers. You can join Twitter, Facebook groups, and other forums.
Reasons to post
By answering other people’s post consistently, it shows you are an established member of the community making it’s easier to trust you. Also, you come off as a nice guy. No one wants to hire a jerk. More people know you exist. By joining a forum of 1000+ people, you put yourself out there to be recognized. People can now check out your profile and see what you do. Your answer will also exist for the life of the forum and can be searched. Your answer can be read by people weeks from now and all you had to do was post once to that question.
Make sure whatever is visible about your profile to the public, you mention you are a general contractor. People then can directly message you asking you about a home improvement job or at least be able to search if there is a home improvement person in the group.
Contribute directly to a question that is in your field
You can answer questions that relate directly to your field of work. Someone might ask an obvious question like do you know of a contractor. You can answer and say, I’m a contractor, do you have a question? (Instead of I’m a contractor, hire me.) By asking if they have a question, you can start building a relationship with them. Also, by answering a question knowledgeably on a forum, others can see that you are a contractor and that you know what you are talking about.
Someone else might ask exactly how to fix something. You don’t have to answer it if it is a big long answer, but you can say trying checking out this one thing first. If the person asking it can’t get it done with your simple answer than they can call you to come by because they obviously need more than just a couple of pointers.
You can also not answer directly to a post about your field, but can provide links instead. You can say, I saw this link about just this topic, see here and post the link. You come off as a person who is knowledgeable about your field, and you did not have to spend more than a few minutes a day helping out others.
Contribute directly to a question that you would have knowledge about surrounding your field
Pretty much any contractor worth his salt would have answered the questions above easily. However, the point isn’t about being just a contractor; it’s about being a part of the community. Someone might say, I hate big box stores with a passion. Their paint department drives me nuts. You so happen know of a small paint shop with excellent service. You can mention that shop to the person posting and tag the paint shop too so the paint store owner knows you mentioned them. Now you are building goodwill all around because you answered a posted question and you are telling the paint store owner that you value their company and service by recommending them. You are also helping the local business community by strengthening it.
Contribute directly to questions you have knowledge about
You are a person, not just a contractor. You have wants, needs, goals, skills, and thing that you love that you can share. If someone asks about a restaurant in the area that serves alcohol and has live music and you know of a great place, recommend it and mention why you recommend it. You also might be the only person who says anything to this person who posted. That makes you look good too and the person who posted now feels good because someone answered their question.
Reshare post about events back into the community
If you know of an event happening but no one else seems to know or if you know first, post it. Now you aren’t just answering, you are posting valuable information back into the community so others can enjoy their time more as members of the community.
Like and comment on people’s share
People share images of their kids, of parties, of whatever, go ahead and like it and comment. Something simple as, “This picture is hilarious. Thx for posting,” builds good will. You might be the only person who likes it and they’ll remember that.
What not to say
Like polite conversations we have with our family and coworkers, the same applies to groups on forums. Don’t talk about politics or religion. Don’t share your personal opinion unless it is G-rated. Sharing your personal opinion doesn’t earn you money and can make people hate you so why bother.
You don’t have to devote tons of time to this task. You can answer questions while you are waiting in line at the grocery store even.
After answering questions for a month or so, this online community now knows about a contractor who is polite, helpful, trustworthy, and nice, which puts you above other contractors because the potential client doesn’t even know they exist and even if the potential client knew other contractors existed, that person isn’t participating in a meaningful way in the potential customer’s life.