Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Skype - Valuable, Up and Coming Business Tool

Posted by Amanda Walsh

As I prepare for my second year of ESL teaching in Madrid, I recently downloaded the Internet-calling software, Skype. Skype is a free program that can be used to chat, make phone or video calls via your computer with anyone around the world. I have heard of Skype through travel friends who have used it as a fast, free way to keep in touch with friends and family across the world.

I’m just starting to get used to the program and appreciate all of the features it offers. Anyone who is familiar with AOL Instant Messenger or MSN Messenger will find Skype’s ‘buddy list’ feature easy to navigate. You can search for contacts by first name, last name and/or country. You can then add them to your ‘buddy list’ and see when they are online and available to chat or take a call. Skype to Skype calling and chatting is free and for additional small fees other features can be accessed.

It just dawned on me the endless possibilities that Skype can provide any business, especially one with international ties. Even within a country, Skype’s ‘video calling’ feature can be a free tool for business partners to access in order to host conference calls. On there are case studies of businesses that have found video calling useful. For example, instead of lengthy e-mail correspondence back and forth, a client can see the finished product on a free or low-cost video call!

Some neat, new features I also discovered include a business directory, text messaging feature, call forwarding and a Skype number feature which allows contacts to call from their phones to your computer no matter where in the world you are.

Does your business have international clients? Have you used Skype or other services to hold conference calls or video chats? I’m interested in hearing from readers who have found new and different ways to keep in contact when long distance is a factor.

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