Reddit is an online platform that is often overlooked as a business tool. The site forbids marketing but is a useful place for you to contribute your expertise and learn from others. As with other social media sites, it's important to be active, professional and engaging in order to be successful.

If you are not familiar with Reddit, here's a quick overview: The plain-paged platform calls itself the Internet's front page. The content on the site is organized into many narrow and broad categories or "subreddits." There are thousands of these on the site, but popular subreddits include technology, random, online marketing, and news. The audience consists primarily of men, ages 18 to 35.

Entrepreneurs, professionals, and marketers all can gain audiences on Reddit, once they have spent time to find people with whom they share interests. Essentially, you're looking for your own niche audience of sorts. Being active on the site by adding content, comments, replies, and useful information are all ways to build relationships. Be sure not to over-extend your reach; stick to the knowledge that you have, without trying to mislead.

Share Knowledge

Content is perhaps the most important part of contributing to Reddit, so ensure your posts are useful and timely. Use your own knowledge to answer questions when you are confident in your information.

For example, if you work as an IT person, find tech subreddits to help other users with their computer questions. As others interact with you, they may start to see you as a solid contributor and even return later for questions or comments. Lawyers can offer legal advice, nurses can contribute health advice, and other professionals can do the same for their fields.

Keep your information strong, useful, and never include spam. If you mention your company or a product you care about, it should be essential information that is highly relevant to the information you're giving a community.

Ask Me Anything

One particularly notable type of post, that even has it's own subreddit, is called "Ask Me Anything (AMA)." These are conversations between notable people in a field and the members of that community or subreddit. Such discussions tend to be interesting, popular, and engaging.

Many celebrities and politicians have contributed these posts, with great reception. As an expert in your field, posting your own AMA can bring in a lot of traffic. For example, if you are a personal trainer, you could post an AMA thread and respond to questions as they come in. Some of the questions asked are outlandish or uncomfortable, but the environment is typically positive and keeps people engaged in discussions.

Learning From Others, Free of Charge

You don't have to start your own AMA to interact with others around subjects in which you may have some expertise. I see people regularly just post a question as a thread in any community or subreddit they frequent, as a way to spark discussion. If you are struggling with certain technical aspects of your craft, or think you are particularly skilled, this is an opportunity to see how others handle the same issues.

The idea here is that you can use Reddit as an opportunity to learn from other professionals, free of charge. Not only will you grow and learn, but you will also build two-way relationships.

Perfect Your Timing

Most social platforms will allow you to set media to be posted at scheduled times, but Reddit doesn't have this option. This makes it important to post during times where a lot of people are using the site.

If you spend a good amount of time interacting with people in a subreddit, you will get a feel for when many others like you are online and interacting. Often it is during the middle of the day. Be sure to set aside a few minutes during that time to read interesting posts or comment on them. If you do not interact during peak times, there is a good chance anything you post will get lost among others.

Also, understand that if you post something during peak hours, people may miss it because there's so much content arriving on the site constantly. Aim for sharing high quality content. The higher the quality, the better chance it has of being seen.

Invite People to Your Sites

Once you have established a professional reputation and built relationships, you can feel better about inviting users to your sites outside of Reddit when appropriate. Be sure you never come across as spammy and are sincere in your interactions.

Only suggest your sites if another user is interested or could benefit from your services. Returning to the personal trainer example: If a fellow Reddit user is looking for the creation of a dietary plan, send them to your site for reference or to request services.

Remember that Reddit is not a marketing tool. Think of the platform as a professional association or as a way to network and treat it appropriately. Use it as a means to trade ideas, help others, and learn more about your field from others. You or your business may indeed eventually receive some positive notoriety from your Reddit interactions, but that is because you contributed positively to a community, not because you kept promoting yourself.