Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are great for connecting with friends and family, and even potential customers and prospects. But these social media tools are certainly not a great way to try to connect to other businesses. There is always LinkedIn, but Microsoft is giving small businesses a new way to virtually meet other businesses, offer skills, get questions answered, or share experience with others with Skype In The Workspace.
With around 280 million active subscribers already using Skype, it stands to reason that some of them would be interested in connecting with each other. Just out of beta, Skype In The Workspace is a community area designed to let small businesses talk to each other to provide live question-and-answer sessions via Skype. Currently just a basic service that provides an automated way to search out new contacts and connect, enabling you to develop new contacts from your existing list of Skype contacts.
What is unique about Skype In The Workplace is that it allows entrepreneurs and small businesses to connect with people regardless of geography and putting you in touch with those you may not otherwise have met. Since the product is just recently released to the public it is still pretty fundamental and without some of the expected integrations with other Microsoft products, like Outlook.
Feeling somewhat like a shared workplace or neighborhood Starbucks, the vision for Skype In The Workspace is to facilitate the community talking to the community. Visiting for the first time, you simply log in with your Skype ID or LinkedIn profile and complete some basic information to get started. Once complete, you then just search and the results are a list of opportunities.
You can create your own opportunity posting as well as browse the postings from others. While the platform is designed to connect you to others with similar interests in the business realm, it isn’t “fully social” just yet. Each posting contains a specified period of time for the conversation, ranging from 5 to 30 minutes. Elements such as online presence, interest indication (ala Facebook “Like), and offline continuation of conversations are missing. If you do find a conversation you want to join, clicking “connect” creates an email to start the connection. The person on the other end can then email you back, or add you as a Skype connection to get the conversation going.
And yes, you’ll find most of your Newtek Team logged in and “available.”