At a recent workshop I ran, one of the attendees asked whether networking works.
I know people in business who swear by the power of networking meetings in growing their business. I also know people who swear just at the thought of going networking. The reality is that for some people it works, and for others it doesn't.
It's a little like Schrodinger's cat. Schrodinger imagined a thought experiment that goes as follows: imagine a cat in a sealed box. In the box there is also a piece of radioactive material that is decaying and will ultimately kill the cat (remember - this is an imaginary cat, not a real one!). How do you know the cat whether the cat is alive or dead? You can't know until you open the box.
Forums can be especially useful if you are working in a knowledge-related field and selling products or workshops. Set up a forum for each product or workshop where users/ participants can discuss what they have learnt and ask questions. You then have four decisions to make. Whatever model you choose, the value of a forum comes in three ways.