The backbone of any business is communication, and it’s even more true for a solo business owner who works remotely with contractors and clients around the globe. One of the most exciting things about the Internet is the way it enables us to talk with people on the other side of the world. No longer are we tethered to a certain office, or even a certain continent.
I would venture to say that the old saying about time being money may be true, but equally as true is the statement that communication is money. Good communication leads to greater productivity and efficiency, and a lot more fun! Here are some free technology tools that will keep you and your team feeling like you’re working across the hall from each other, not across the globe:
Skype is a software program that allows users to make voice calls over the Internet. But it doesn’t stop there; you can chat, share screens, send files, and more. It’s great for group chats or calls, but the quality can be a bit sketchy, so don’t use it for mission-critical calls with clients, or for calls you want to record for future distribution, if quality is an issue. Find out more at Skype.com
It may seem strange to consider Twitter as a communication hub, but it has a lot of benefits. Its 140-character limit ensures that everyone is brief and to the point, and its 24/7 availability from mobile phone, computer, or iPad means most people are within reach at all times. You can create lists or follow specific terms or hashtags (#). It’s fairly reliable and free. The drawback: Your conversations are public, but it’s great for quick check-ins when email may not be an option. Find out more at Twitter.com
Yahoo and Google both provide free email-based groups, and now Facebook does too. Set your privacy level and invite members. Members can read messages via email or online, and you can share images and documents in a private web-based hub. Email groups are terrific for ongoing communication. Find out more at Groups.Yahoo.com, Groups.Google.com, and Facebook.com/Groups)
Creating a group via Flickr may not be your first thought, as the site is known for sharing photos, but it’s much more than that. You can “friend” people and create private groups, complete with message boards. If you need to share video or photos (Realtors, are you listening?), you’re in the perfect spot! Basic membership is free. Find out more at Flickr.com
Another entry in the Google suite of applications, Google Buzz is a social networking and messaging tool that works with Gmail. You can share links, photos, videos, status messages and comments from Twitter, Picasa, Flickr, and Google Reader. “Conversations” are sent to your Gmail inbox. Some people are bothered by the world domination of Google, while others enjoy the integration. Google Buzz is great for brainstorming and sharing of visual information and content. Find out more when you sign up for a Google account or go to Google.com/buzz.
If all you want is a basic conference call service with recording capabilities, look no further than FreeConferenceCall. No reservations are required, and you can accommodate up to 96 callers. One recording is held at a time. Find out more at FreeConferenceCall.com
If you’re looking for a solution with customer support and a lot of advanced features then you’ll want to check out Instant Teleseminar. With this paid program you can host basic conference calls, allow up to 2,000 listeners via online webcast, host live powerpoint presentations online, have live chats, monitor incoming feedback and more! Check it out at InstantTeleseminar.com
Now that you’ve seen this assortment of ways to talk, write, chat, IM, and hook up, you have no excuse for staying out of the loop. Get connected, and get profitable!