6 Ways to Stay Connected

Apr 20, 2012

The challenge today is to find new ways to stay accessible, collaborate, and communicate. I thought I would share with you some of the tools that we use to keep connected, so in no particular order, here are some of the Hive’s most effective and fun communication tools.

1. The Phone
The phone is your friend, except when a salesperson is cold calling you. But really, the phone is sometimes forgotten or set aside in our digital lives. It is so much easier to text and far more polite to shoot off an email. I’ll even shoot off a quick email to ask for a good time to call. Even with team members, when typing into Skype gets to be too much I’ll ask for a call with an emoticon. Although the phone is rarely used, when used properly, a voice to voice can almost be as good as a face to face. Phoning has gone out of style and for good reason; however, a planned call can have great results. Today, the telephone is not the first go-to tool and if you are still a phone first kind of person we would like to suggest reading this New York Times article on the topic.

2. Text Messages
This is a mixed bag. I look at my text messages as an urgent response required, although I know that is not always the case. Text messages are perfect when you don’t want to intrude or interrupt with an unscheduled phone call but want to ask a quick question, get a piece of information, a status update, or even a heads up out to someone. Sometimes I’ll text that I’m in the area and ask if a quick meet is an option. You’d be surprised how often this is a great connect for an impromptu meeting. Naturally you will need their mobile phone number to use this service. I would caution you to use this service with discretion so as not to become an annoyance, especially with regards to business acquaintances. However, for companies who provide services or ship goods, asking your customers if they would like a text status update is a great tool to keep in touch and open the door for greater communications.

3. Skype
Skype is a service we have become dependent on and addicted to. It’s no secret that I am at my desk and on my computer a lot. As client relationships progress and projects are initiated, teams need to collaborate and keep on track, and for this Skype is a valuable communication system. Though I primarily use the instant message function, you can also video chat (which I rarely do) and of course place calls. The drag and drop file shares are worth their bytes in gold. Group chats and even the screen share feature are also quite useful, making for a robust communication system. With exception of making out-of-network calls, all of this is free. I put my ‘in’ sign on when I sit down to work and my ‘out’ sign on when I don’t want to be disturbed or am really out.

If someone has a quick question he or she can Skype me. This works much faster than waiting for an email to travel, be opened and read, and then responded to. Sometimes now isn’t fast enough and Skype is the solution. I also find there is a certain comfort at looking at my Skype panel and seeing who is also online and available—it reminds me of the old days of walking out of my office and strolling through the corridors and open spaces and seeing my coworkers.

4. JoinMe
JoinMe is another one of those free tools that we can’t live without. WordPress and other CMS-driven websites are the must have these days and we are producing our fair share of them. Instructing our clients on how to use their new administrative panels through a guided tour works really well by screen sharing through JoinMe. We can bring up their administrative site and they follow along with the customized documentation we provide. Other types of instructions work really well this way such as some of the one-on-one or group demonstrations we give on how to use LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and other workshop-styled instructions.

5. Free Conference Call
Free Conference Call is a must have, can’t live without service. True, our phones have conference calling, but how many people can join the call is limited. We use Free Conference Call for both client and team group calls and combine this often with JoinMe when we all need to be on the same page. And as the name suggests, it is free.

6. Social Media
Social Media opens up some great opportunities to reach out and chat with individuals that you don’t connect with regularly. Twitter is a fun and wonderful way to start up a chat, Facebook clearly is a dynamic platform and don’t think that LinkedIn has no weight—I like messages on LinkedIn because the person’s entire profile is accessible if you are connected. I don’t know why people forget about social media when they want to get a conversation going. I wouldn’t recommend using this medium to start really important conversations, but it can be a great door opener to preface a direct email that might otherwise get missed or a phone call that might go unanswered.

How do you stay connected and what are some of your favorite tools?

Mardy Sitzer is a Certified Inbound Marketing Professional, and President of Bumblebee Design & Marketing. Since 1993, Mardy has been delivering creative and innovative marketing solutions. An avid reader of all things internet and marketing, she also writes blogs, articles and web content for industry magazines as well as for Bumblebee’s clients. Follow her on Twitter (twitter.com/MardySitzer) or email her at mardy@bumblebeellc.com.

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