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Well … hello again. Welcome to the fifth in our series of posts concerning your I-Marketer’s Toolkit. If you’ve been with us from the beginning you’ll know we’ve covered quite a bit of information so far this week … and there’s still more to come. We’ve talked about web hosting, video marketing, autoresponders, and yesterday we covered lead capture and prospecting systems. I know that’s a lot of information for one week, but we’ll go into each one in more depth in one way or another as time goes on.
Today we’ll be talking some about online conferencing. If you’ve been on the Internet for long, especially if you’ve been working online or thinking about doing so, you’ve probably run into online conferencing in one form or another. If you’re a “newbie” at all this, I can already hear that question coming up in your mind again: “Why do I need this right now? I wouldn’t even know what to do with it?”
Well, the answer to that is the same as the times you asked it previously: you will soon enough, and the sooner you get yourself exposed to using it the better in the long run.
If you’ve been around MLM or network marketing as long as I have, you’ll remember the days when conference calls on the phone were state-of-the-art. You’ll also recall what a pain it could be to simply have voice contact with no graphics or video, no desktop sharing, none of the things that make today’s online conferencing so powerful. You’ll also remember how expensive it could be on your phone bill to sit on an open line for an hour cross-country or internationally. True, the folks holding the phone conference could take that expense off of you by providing an “800” line for the call, but that made the conference more expensive for them.
When online conferencing first began to appear, the rooms were usually software based. This meant that when you logged in to any system for the first time you needed to download software into your own computer … the “room” itself … which would then connect with other rooms. There were sometimes problems with this when the software would have conflicts with a particular system. At that time a normal room would have audio, a chat box where people could converse by typing, and a large portion of the screen devoted to whatever presentation the owner wished to display. These were limited to web pages or Powerpoint presentations.
Today, the best online conference rooms employ a “Flash” based system where nothing is downloaded into your computer. The rooms simply open in your Internet browser as a window and operate from there. All participants should have access to typing in the chat box, hearing and being heard on audio, and seeing whoever is speaking through the incorporation of webcams. The Powerpoint presentations are still in use, but added to that you’ll find the capability to display videos, use “whiteboards”, share files, and a great newer innovation called “Desktop Sharing” where a presenter can actually display his own computer screen to the room for instruction purposes. “Private Messaging” is also now usually available, a feature that allows individual room attendees to communicate privately without involving the entire room.
Today, conferencing is used extensively by many large corporations as a way to save travel expenses when meetings are necessary between people in different locations. Many large companies have been using online conferencing for years to supply training to their employees, saving travel time and money and allowing the training to be delivered when convenient.
With the fairly recent decrease in pricing for this type of system, and all of the newer innovations, online conferencing has now become one of the major components of any Internet business today, and is employed everywhere by entrepreneurs who use it to communicate freely and inexpensively with folks who may not be otherwise reachable because of distance. For the small business owner, the variety of possible uses becomes staggering. Online conference rooms can now be used for the traditional presentations or “webinars” … situations where people are invited to hear a business presentation, for instance … but they can also be used for training associates and even meeting new prospects and friends!
With the cost now so low, a conference room is within reach of almost anyone, and can even be used fairly casually. As you can see, I have a “Virtual Office” page on this very website! That’s my online conference room and I keep it open whenever I can so people can simply come and visit if they like. It’s a great way to contact new people!
If you’d like to see how it works, just visit the Virtual Office page on this site and login as directed. If I’m online you’ll find me there! I’d love to meet you!
As with all of your Internet tools, you need to be careful here as well. If you go with the wrong provider, you can end up spending too much for a lot of stuff you don’t need. For instance, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t get by without a “300 seat” room. If you’re just starting out in I-Marketing that would be HUGE overkill. Newbies will do fine with a 10 seat room. Eventually you may want to up that to 25 or 50, but for most folks who don’t yet have a big organization, a 10 or 20 seat room will do just fine.
Features you want to make sure you DO have are full audio and video … the ability to show videos seamlessly within the room … and that all important “Desktop Sharing”. That is crucial as you get into training your business associates. You’ll be surprised at how many times you can tell someone “click on this and then on that” but it won’t register in their minds until they SEE IT. Desktop sharing is a must, and most systems out there don’t support it until the price is exorbitant. Again … do your “due diligence” and look around. There ARE providers who supply really good conference rooms with everything you’ll need, and do it at a reasonable price. You just have to look around to find them.
That’s it for this post. I hope you found it helpful.
Tomorrow we’ll have the sixth and final post in this series, and I hope you’ll join us then.
Have a GREAT Day!
Internet Marketing Expert & Trainer
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