For small businesses with employees and customers scattered across the country, it’s expensive to travel to hold face-to-face meetings, especially now with gas prices sitting near $4 a gallon.
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But thanks to a slew of low-cost Internet video conferencing services, it’s easy for small business owners to connect with remote workers and customers, host client and investor meetings and make sales presentations without leaving the comfort of their base office or home.
The latest Web conference calling technology from tech giant Cisco (CSCO), WebEx lets small businesses host meetings online and share documents housed on a desktop through video. To use the Web-based service, owners need a computer or wireless device, Internet connection and an audio connection either via a computer or phone.
The service also has desktop sharing that allows participants of a video conference to see what's on the host's screen.
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WebEx costs $49 a month.
Touted as a Web conferencing system that even a novice won’t have a problem using, Citirix’s (CTXS) GoToMeeting makes arranging and hosting online meetings a snap.
With GoToMeeting, a small business owner registers online by creating a username and password and then downloads the app to a PC or Mac. Meetings can be scheduled through GoToMeeting's Web site, through Microsoft Outlook or via instant messaging. The Web conferencing tool allows up to 15 people to join a call and small business owners can also save and replay video conferencing sessions.
GoToMeeting costs $49 a month
Brought to you by Logitech, SightSpeed is a video conferencing service over the Internet that only requires a Webcam and an Internet connection. With the service, small business owners get unlimited video calling, multi-party video conferencing, video mail, unlimited video mail storage and video and voice call recordings. The service costs $19.95 a month per seat; a five-user pack costs $89.95, a 10-user pack costs $149.95 and a 50-user pack costs $695.95.
Work in an environment where most of your employees and customers are intimately familiar with instant messaging and Web chats? If so, PalTalk may be the way to hold your business’s video conferences and it’s free.
PalTalk gives users access to thousands of video chat rooms, but does not allow users to share documents or power point slides. The service also offers free video calls with up to 10 people, a free customizable URL so employees and customers can easily reach you from their browser and access to all your instant messaging friends.
The service also boasts a community of more than 4 million members, giving you access to people around the world that may be in the same industry or share the same interests. The company also offers a mobile app for the BlackBerry, Android and iPhone.
Popular among consumers thanks to its free price tag, small businesses are also using Skype’s group video calling to connect with employers and customers.
With the service, video calls can host three or more people and all users need is the latest business version of Skype, a laptop and a Web cam. Small business owners can also share presentations or other documents on their computer with the service.