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The Skype service has quickly become an everyday technology in business. With over 663 million registered users, of which 280 million actively use the service, there is a huge potential for business to business networking, sales and other uses. With this in mind, the widely used service owned by Microsoft just announced their new online “Skype in the Workspace (SITW)” platform, a way for business owners to promote their products and network with prospects.
Skype in the Workspace was beta tested with 500 businesses for the past six months. While Skype never officially uses the term “social network” to describe SITW, it’s all about making social connections and developing business relationships.
“Most of the stories you probably hear in the media [about Skype] are more personal stories, like people talking to their grandma or there’s a new baby in the family,” said Ural Cebeci, Skype’s head of Small Businesses Marketing. “At the same time, there are millions of businesses that use Skype to run their businesses.”
Instead of friend requests, SITW businesses create what are called “opportunities.” Users respond to business created opportunities that interest them. Opportunities can include a photo or short video and appear under a standard intro of “[Your name] wants to meet about…” with a title and a suggested meeting duration such as 30 minutes. Users interested in the opportunity would click “connect,” which generates a customizable message and connection request. Once sent, both users are connected on Skype and can schedule a meeting at their discretion.
While Linkedin continues to be the leader in the world of business social networking, the site lacks the final connection step. Users can find a phone or send an email to another user. Skype on the other hand provides the actual phone or videoconference line with one click.
“Making that easy connection and then connecting on Skype and taking the conversation from there seems to be very powerful,” Cebaci said. “That’s what we heard from the beta customers as well.”
SITW also links with other well-known networks including Twitter and Google+. For now, Facebook is not an option and Cebaci says that was done on purpose.
“Given the professional nature of this, Linkedin and Twitter seemed to be the most appropriate.”