It’s a big beautiful virtual world, and when it comes to business that is a great thing! It is 2009 and if you are anything like me then one of the first things on your business to-do list this year is to streamline costs, and the second is to kick your business into high gear. This is preciously why I love technology, if you need to cut costs but also keep up with the big boys then the advances in technology and specifically on the internet is the place to do it.
Even a small business owner needs to be able to compete on a global level, but you shouldn’t have to pay a fortune to do it. When you are trying something new, free is always a good place to start however if you do find that you are using a service or product with more and more frequency paying for it isn’t a bad idea either.
That old adage “you get what you pay for” is usually more true than not. When you upgrade to a paid account there is more security, reliability, and accountability on the part of the provider, which makes life that much better for the consumer. The resources listed below all have pretty good track records, even on their free services, but alas they are not without the occasional glitch. So, check them out and if you find that a particular service is helping you grow your business then by all means upgrade.
5 free resources to keep you in the global communication big leagues:
Their on-demand, free conference calling is available anytime—no advance notice or conference call details are required. This is a free conference calling service you can use from anywhere, anytime, featuring a 250-person capacity and up to six hours of conference time for each call.
If the caller is using a cell phone, most VOIP services or a nationwide long-distance plan, the conference call will likely cost them nothing. Basement Ventures also makes it easy to manage the call online and provides free conference call recording
Arranging free conference calls is simple—just provide each caller with the date and time of your call as well as the dial-in number and bridge code. Once your callers enter the appropriate code, they are connected on one conference call.
Your teleconferencing line is available to you 24/7. There is no need to schedule a meeting or make reservations. Each free teleconferencing account accommodates 96 callers on an unlimited number of 6 hour conference calls. Long distance charges may apply, but there are no additional charges from FreeConferenceCall.com.
FreeConferenceCall accounts also come with FREE conference call recording. So not only is the recording service free, it’s accessible by phone or computer, with no additional charges for downloading. You can distribute, archive or even send recordings to your listeners via RSS and podcast – for FREE.
This free teleconferencing service is simple to use, requiring only a name and an email address to receive an instant account. FreeConferenceCall will provide you with a dedicated dial-in number and an access code for your free teleconferencing services, which are ready for immediate use.
Skype is a free VOIP (voice over IP – which means you talk through the internet) service when calls are from one Skype user to another. It is free to join Skype, download their software onto your computer, and invite others to join. Skype also provides low-cost unlimited calling plans to landlines and cell phones around the world.
Skype allows you to call through you computer, send documents to your contacts while on a call, conference call with 9 other people, group chat with up to 100 people, and one on one video conferencing.
With skype, you can also record your calls and conferences for FREE. Get http://www.powergramo.com and get the free version. The paid PRO version ($34.95) will actually separate your voice recordings. You can then create CD’s, audios, etc.
Userplane and SeeToo also allow up to two people in the video chat.
ooVoo is a late addition to this list, but after checking them out worth adding. On the free side you can have video chats with up to 3 people, for $10 a month you can have a six person video chat. Non-webcam chatters can call in to participate as well. You can record your chats and easily save them on your hard drive to email or to share on the web.
The number of free and paid chatters that can be on one video conference is not as high as some of the other sites but I will say their video quality looks better than most. It is high resolution, with multiple ways to view participants. The other positive is the file sending capabilities, they allow you to send large files (up to 25 MB per files), 20 files at a time to as many contacts as you want, and to send files to contacts who are offline.
Paltalk is a real-time, video-based chat community. With more than 4 million members and thousands of chat rooms to choose from, on virtually every subject. Members interact with each other through real-time voice, text and video chat. You can start groups in this chat community. Groups include a chat room, photo/video sharing, a message board, and a members list. Paltalk is split into two products/services the online Paltalk Express and the downloadable PC based Paltalk Scene.
Paltalk Scene SuperIMTM allows you to make free video calls with up to 10 friends on Paltalk, AIM, ICQ and Yahoo Messenger.
Paltalk Express Basic is free, but limits your viewing of an individual’s webcam to just 10 seconds per chat session (at 5 frames per second). After that, you can still hear but not see the person. The two fee-based plans take away that restriction and provide colored nicknames. Plus members, who pay $8.95 per month, can stream up to six of their own webcams at a time, and view videos at 5 fps. Extreme members pay $14.95 monthly and can stream as many cams as they want, viewing each at a respectable 15 fps. For $60 annually, though, you get all the benefits of Extreme (including the frame rate), saving a fortune over the month-to-month plans. All versions of Express are completely banner free (Paltalk Scene isn’t).
Free video conferencing, no downloads or account setup necessary, only the party that initiates the video conference call is required to have a Tokbox account. You can send the URL by IM or email to the parties you would like to participate. If you would like to start a video conference from your contact list, you can do that too.
Participants that do not have a webcam can choose to listen in only. 20 to 25 people on the video conferencing is recommended. While you can squeeze in more, things like ambient noise and screen size do come into play. Simply make sure you’re working off of a recent version of Adobe Flash for best performance.
If you have used or are using one of these services we would love to get your feedback, and of course if you know of something better shout that out too…..