Have you tried Google Hangouts? They may replace Skype, even WebEx and high-end conference programs.
Sure, you can just hang out and have fun. But, you can do lots of other things too.
1. Host conference calls. Talk to people face to face, even if they’re in other countries, or opposite sides of the world. Best part: up to 10 people can hangout and see each other, and it’s free. If they don’t have video, or are stuck behind a corporate firewall, you can call them directly from the hangout (free for calls in the US and Canada).
2. Have a book group. I have a business book group every Friday. Last week, we read Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance by Jonathan Fields (affiliate link) and he was kind enough to join us live for our discussion (with a giant Buddha behind his head)
3. Mastermind group/brainstorming – Use it to set goals, brainstorm, and even share documents and drawings. If you use the Google Hangout with extras, you can create Google docs, edit, draw, and share as you work.
4. Hold a class or training session – Your students, or company colleagues can see what you’re doing, ask questions, and give you feedback in real-time.
5. Promote your business on Youtube – record what you’ve done (assuming everyone agrees and knows what you’re doing) and post it automatically to Youtube. Use it to create mini-movies, collaborate on a video, or a song, to teach something, or promote your business.
6. Status meetings/year-end wrap-ups – Go over the past year, or a project you’re working on. Do an “after-action” review on a recent project.
7. Host a business breakfast or lunch – Invite several of your clients to join you for lunch. Put together people who might be able to help each other (a furniture store and an interior decorator, for instance). They bring a bag, you help them grow their businesses.
8. Networking – get together with other writers, designers, or coders. Share tips on the best places to get published, how to deal with difficult clients, or just talk shop.
9. Feedback – just launch a new product? Or want to know what your beta testers think? Get them together in a hangout and see their real-time reactions (the good, the bad, and the really needs to be fixed fast).
10. Holiday party! – So, you’re a freelancer and work with people in other states or countries. Have your holiday party on a hangout. Bring your own snacks (you may not want to do this on air!)
Update: Since this post was inspired by Laura Spencer, I promised her I’d add her own post on the subject once it was published. So, here’s The Freelancer’s Ultimate Introduction to Google Plus Hangouts, with more in-depth tips on what you’ll need, how to use them, and how to set one up.