As stated in my last blog, nothing really compares to a face-to-face meeting for brainstorming or ironing out steps in a business plan. Nothing beats the camaraderie of sharing food and ideas around a table at a brainstorming session. The energy of this type of meeting is productive fun. Currently, virtual connections are just the way of the global business atmosphere. Flexibility with your collaborator’s schedule and geography is a must. This is when online collaboration tools come in handy. Collaboration tools allow professionals to globally align their genius ideas creating an opportunity to overcome any weaknesses and excel in the strengths of the collaboration.
These tools literally open up the world to on-line entrepreneurs, freelancers or business-to business operations.
These tools allow the budget and time conscious individual to create a seamless workflow as if they were sharing a desk.
Google Drive – The drive is a great place to access a suite of apps, store files and work, with up to 5GB of free storage space. Google docs is one of my favorite tools on Google Drive. Google Docs allows you to share written documents, presentations and much more than I have room for in this article. Once you have created your document you can share with others allowing them to edit and contribute to the project.
Zoho – This is another suite of editing, creating and collaboration online software. This site is new for me, but I had to mention it. When I first went to the site, I was thinking it was a Google site. It has that clean look, uses prime colors in the logo. Similar to Google, it offers a ‘workhorse’ of software all in one place. Any business would be pleased as punch. From reading the reviews, Zoho appears to be a great collaborative tool and perfect alternative if you think Google is trying to steal your soul.
Facebook – It’s not just for losing yourself in someone’s Christmas pictures. I had the pleasure of working on a video shoot last year. The director of the video created a closed group page that allowed us to introduce ourselves, follow the preparation for the shoot and the production schedule was created. Additionally, even though some folks were on the west coast and us on the east coast, and had never met, the common ground and the way we all understand that virtual relationships are stepping stones to more, most of the time, we felt comfortable sharing ideas and asking questions. For insight and step-by-step instructions on creating a closed group read here: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-use-secret-facebook-groups-to-enhance-your-business//.
Asana.com – This is prefect for projects with exact tasks and several team members. This site allows you to work on several projects with your group. It’s a clean site and easy to navigate. You and your team can add, update and get notifications about tasks. The changes, like Google Docs, can be seen in real-time. There’s also an activity feed that allows you to follow discussions on tasks. It’s also worth mentioning that it’s free for up to 30 team members.
Screenleap – This is a very simple screen sharing site. When I say simple I mean, you don’t have to enter a credit card, even an email to start sharing your screen right away. Also, when I say simple I mean this system isn’t as robust as other systems like Team Viewer and Join.Me. It’s the perfect option for those working on a PB&J budget or those who just don’t need all the extras. They currently have audio in Beta.
In wrapping, it’s worth mentioning that if you haven’t taken a look at the well-known online collaboration tools like Skype and Go To Meeting, you should take advantage of these options. In our virtual work world, geography is no longer an excuse for not getting great work done successfully.
By: Whitney Messervy, CRS Media Blogger