As an independent professional, technology can go a long way to help you create a virtual office. However, one of the biggest hurdles to working remotely is when you need to collaborate. Not being in the same physical room shouldn’t stop you from making the most of an important client meeting.
Here’s a look at the latest, most commonly utilized online meeting tools and platforms. While it can be tough to beat face-to-face interaction, these technologies are great options to help foster the collaboration needed for a productive and successful client relationship.
This Cisco tool is one of the most established online meeting services. The program has a desktop plugin that allows users to quickly host or join a virtual meeting. All participants can share their screens, and face-to-face video chat is also an option.
WebEx can integrate with other applications such as Microsoft Office, which makes it easy to add virtual meetings to any calendar appointment. It also provides the flexibility of mobile and tablet access.
With such a steady reputation, WebEx carries a strong list of large corporate clients, which could be useful should these customers be your clients as well. It always helps when you’re able to “speak the same language” as your client. Be ready to make the investment, however, as features raise the monthly rate.
WebEx pricing ranges from $24 to $49 per month, depending on meeting participant sizes.
Citrix GoToMeeting provides similar online meeting, screen sharing, and mobile options with one-click access to start a meeting. Meeting attendees may need to install a plugin before joining the meeting, but once this is done one-click meetings will be at your fingertips.
You may have noticed that MBO Partners webinars are hosted via GoToMeeting in order to best communicate with our audience. Live polling is a great feature for us and the platform allows us to easily field questions from attendees.
GoToMeeting pricing ranges from $19 to $49 per month, depending on meeting participant sizes and desired capabilities. Middle-tier packages include drawing tools, recording, mobile apps, and keyboard and mouse sharing, while more expensive packages include an active directory and virtual whiteboard.
Unlike the platforms listed above, Join.me was originally created as an internal remote control support tool rather than for meeting collaboration. The service has evolved to become a popular online meeting platform, and now provides the same desired meeting features as may other services such as multiple viewers, screen sharing, chat, file sharing, and mobile capabilities.
However, Join.me does charge a premium for a number of additional perks and settings including dedicated meeting URL and conference line capability. Join.me is part of a larger suite of online collaboration platforms called LogMeIn.
Join.me pricing ranges from free to $25 per month, depending on meeting participant sizes and desired capabilities. Middle-tier packages include recording, reporting, and cloud storage, while more expensive packages include enhanced reporting and more expansive cloud storage.
First utilized as a more casual tool for friends to hold video chats, Google+ Hangouts is now commonly used for workplace collaboration, especially as the use of remote talent increases. Similar to Google Voice, the platform provides free voice calls, but also incorporates real-time video.
Google+ Hangouts also offers screen sharing and document collaboration, taking advantage of Google’s own Google Docs group editing. As a compatible, social, and economical service, Google+ Hangouts might be the best place to start when growing your business.
Google+ Hangouts is a free service.
To paraphrase an old adage, “No matter where we go, there we are.” Whether you’re collaborating with a team or keeping lines of communication open with your clients, these virtual tools can help you formulate the best online meeting strategy for your business.
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MBO Partners rounds up news of note pertaining to independent contractors from around the web. This is the October 19, 2015 edition.