Nothing is more important than the relationships a company builds with its customers and partners. To foster these relationships, larger companies sometimes have annual conferences where people from across the country come together to meet each other, catch up on new company products and services, and learn new ways to use the company’s system. These usually cost quite a bit of money for both the company and the participants.
Although nothing beats a good physical face-to-face conference, just in terms of time and money it is not something that can be done more than once every year or two. And, getting together with key clients and partners only once every year or two to fill them in on what’s going on is just not sufficient to build a real relationship.
What some companies have decided to do is to still offer the once-a-year physical meeting, but to augment them with quarterly web meetings that are similar to their large conferences, but smaller in scope (50 to 75 people) and that target different market niches and that use audio and video tools to provide interaction between parties.
Due to the more intimate nature of the web meetings over the physical get together, this becomes a venue to find out how clients are actually using the product and its features and get them to share what they are doing and what they are finding out about it. It also proves to be a great vehicle to brainstorm and troubleshoot with clients about products under development; and provides a great way to find out what the client’s priorities are for new products, allowing the meeting convener to better prioritize product enhancements or new product releases.
It is hard enough to be a good parent when you and your family live in the same house; but when you either have to be on the road a lot or live across the state, across the country, or around the world from your family or children it's even tougher. With the globalization of business and services, long-term, long-distance travel for some jobs is now a necessity. This has made it tough for some parents to stay as personally and emotionally in touch with their loved ones as they would like.
The mobility of the US workforce has also had a tremendous impact on grandparents, who now many times live far away from their grandchildren and who maybe get to see them once or at most twice a year, if that often.
To stay in touch with those you love, sometimes you have to get creative and one of the best ways to do that is to web conference with them. Seeing someone and how they react in a conversation and vice versa is a powerful tool for staying close and emotionally in touch. Seeing is also much more comforting and real for children than simple emails or letters and photographs.
Because video conferencing is so cheap and easy, compared to flying or driving long distances, you can also increase the amount of time you get to see your kids or grandkids, especially in those early years when they are growing up.
The cost of video conferencing and other modes of web-enabled video has dropped precipitously so this can be a viable option for those who want to stay in touch and maintain strong personal relationships with other people in their lives
Here is one of our electric clams. Their name "electric" comes from the pulse of "electricity" (really it’s phosphorescence) which seems to blink on and off. You can see a little of it here near the mouth.
Because webinars don't require people to go anywhere, there's a lot of flexibility in deciding when they can be scheduled. Most presenters have not adjusted to this brave new world of freedom or the kind of things they need to think about when scheduling their webinar. Sometimes the best time for a webinar is completely counter to when you think the best time for a face-to-face seminar should be held.
First, and this you would think is the most obvious, is to be sure you arrange your webinar so that it works with the time zone in which your attendees live.
Depending on whether you are looking for a national or international audience, you may need to think, about scheduling your webinar twice.
Believe it or not, industry surveys have found out that if you are targeting professionals, Mondays and Fridays generally have good attendance, not what you would think. But these are bad days if your target is the support staff.
Also summer months and holiday weeks, like the beginning of the week of Thanksgiving or the week between Christmas and New Year can work well, though scheduling can again depend on your target audience. For example if you are looking to attract express delivery people, anytime two months before Christmas is off limits.
Because other meetings usually begin and end on the hour, start your webinar at a quarter after the hour and end on the hour or an hour and a half later. This lets your attendees get back from their previous meeting and get ready and lets them finish your webinar before they have to get to their next meeting.
Try to avoid the lunch hour. The best times to consider are generally 10 A.M. and 2 P.M. because people are already at work, generally no matter how late their workday starts, and your webinar will be over before those who come in early have to go home.
Last month, a historic event took place in the high-definition (HD) video conferencing facility on the University of Denver’s campus through their Institute for the Study of Israel in the Middle East. Here teenagers in Israeli, representing Arabs, Jews, Christians, and Muslims met with 25 Iraqi high school students who were visiting the University of Denver to hold a peace summit to explore barriers to peace in the region and how to overcome them.
The Iraqi students visiting Denver were part of the Iraqi Youth Leaders Exchange Program sponsored by the US State Department and they met and talked directly with Israeli students who had convened at the AVCOM facilities in Tel Aviv.
The videoconference allowed these Middle Eastern youth to see the faces, hear the voices, and ask direct questions of their counterparts whom, under regular circumstances, they would never get a chance to meet or get to know as people.
The positive results of this meeting showed how the use of new communications technology can help break down barriers that have existed for decades, facilitate communication, and foster understanding.
The event showed that the creative application of new communications technology which allows people to meet on their own terms under non-threatening conditions breaks down communication barriers and allows conversations to take place that could never occur otherwise.
the innumerable advantages afforded by modern technology is the ability to
transform your home into an office even though the two boundaries can be and
often are somewhat blurry. Still, there is something to be said for not having
to deal with traffic jams, rush hours, punching clocks and the cozy plushier
alternative of sitting in an office chair clad in pajamas and silly slippers.
Not only that, in terms of your own virtual business, your hours and profit
are all your own. But beware. That could mean that your shop is NEVER
The freedom afforded by a virtual company is limitless, but so
are the problems and pitfalls if you do not organize, prioritize and get off
your butt so that you can eventually sit down on your butt. Unlike a
conventional organization, those of the virtual variety have no shared
physical space and no employees. An entirely different frame of mind and set
of skills are required than those who work at a physical location. There are
some specific issues to be addressed however, some emotional, some practical
and others purely fiscal. Starting with the character traits that best lend
themselves to running a virtual business, here are some tips to consider about
how to make your virtual business a lucrative, satisfying, interesting and
successful business venture.
- Be passionate about working from your home. If you do not live
and breathe your particular product or service, you will eventually want to
take it out to the backyard and kill it along with all your dreams for success
on your own terms.
Understand your motivations. Are you driven to work for yourself? Virtual work
settings attract different people for different reasons. Make sure your
reasons are clearly etched in your brain, as they will become part of your
emotional mantra when the hard times come and help to propel you through
- If it is at all possible, maintain two separate computers in
your home; one for work and one for your other life. This helps you to
distinguish work from leisure in your own mind, which is one of the greatest
challenges in maintaining a successful virtual business. Do not install
instant messenger programs, chat room applets or computer games on your
workstation computer; save those for your private time.
- If you are not determined to succeed, you probably will not
make your concept for a successful virtual business work very well. There's an
old saying that translates into something like: "Those who think they can
usually do and those who think they can't, usually can't." The good news is
that just like any other positive habit, determination is something that can
be developed over time. Make up your mind to not let anything stand in your
way to success and it won't.
- You will have to assume full responsibility for everything
that succeeds or fails within your virtual business. When problems arise, you
must solve them in the most responsible manner possible. Conversely, you get
to take every single scrap of credit for jobs well done, making the virtual
business unmatched in rendering a sense of pride and satisfaction.
- You must cultivate self-discipline and realize that if you
only have to report to yourself, the work involved will not get done unless
you go and do it. Distractions are everywhere even on your own website where
pleasant things are only a click away from realization. Most people don't have
this skill naturally, but rather learn how to acquire it over time. You too
can be among them (and maybe even be the first on your block to do so).
- You must get organized, set a schedule for yourself and stick
to it. As the head of your virtual business, you have the advantage of being
able to create a flexible schedule for yourself that fits around the rest of
your life. Whether your personal bio-rhythms call for you to work week-ends,
evenings, early morning or all or some of the above, you must remember that
your decided work schedule must be adhered to as strictly as possible. Be your
own slave driver. In the end, it will all pay off.
Select practical office furniture. You will spend a major part of every day in
your office. Shop around and find the best computer, office chair, and
equipment and supplies for your money and your needs. These items can be
tax-deductible and are well worth their cost. They will serve you well. Buy
the best you can afford and do not buy impulsively.
- Select the right spot in your home for your office. This is
not only true for the achievement of that elusive concept known as optimum
feng shui. It also pertains to a space where you can work UNDISTURBED for
hours at a time. No distractions. This means, wives, husbands, children, pets,
friends and relatives, well meaning and otherwise.
- There must be a leader of the virtual business. No matter how
many partners and participants, there must be one person in charge of all the
operations of your virtual business. There is no underestimating the
importance of a strong leadership from the corporation's very
- All partners must be able to communicate with each other at
all times. With so many remote locations, it is mandatory for all who share
both profits and responsibility for the daily operations of a virtual business
to remain "in the loop" so to speak about all events and decisions affecting
the company. The two most effective ways to accomplish that are video
conferencing and conference calls. The most current video-conferencing systems
are very easy to use and they transmit pictures and audio of the best possible
quality. It really is almost like being there.
- Despite the liabilities associated with video conferencing,
namely the absence of eye contact and appearance consciousness, experts agree
that it is a valuable tool for the day-to-day operations of the virtual
business. As people become more accustomed to video conferencing as a means of
communication, these issues will disappear. Now that personal video-conference
systems based on a web cam, personal computer system, software compression and
broadband Internet connectivity have become affordable commodities, video
conferencing is available to many who otherwise would not have been able to
- The distribution of equity in a virtual business must be
clearly established in writing and understood by all participants. With
multiple partners, who does what and for how much should never be a matter of
guesswork. There will always be those partners who are either "hunters or
skimmers" in terms of working styles. Hunters make the kill and skimmers watch
them. In a very lean organization, however, there is no room for skimmers.
Everyone must pick up the slack and be a hunter. Still, each partner is
entitled to whatever share of the equity has been agreed upon.
- The participants in your virtual business do not necessarily
have to be friends, but they all have to be motivated by their common
commitment to the corporation. They all must exhibit a personal compatibility
in their dealings with the other members. Even remotely, one can become
intimate with the help of hi-tech conference calls and video
The statistics are a bit scary, although they are constantly
changing as people learn what works for the virtual business and what doesn't.
According to statistics, more than 90% of the people trying to earn a living
online are failing. This is a hard fact and must be addressed realistically.
The main reason for the failure seems to be the frame of mind that most
entrepreneurs are in when they embark on this type of business venture.
Many have an unrealistic image of a glamorous freedom from cares
and responsibilities all while money rakes in along side the enormous pool in
the backyard of the mansion. Too many are dreamers without direction. But that
doesn't have to be you.
Not every press release is created equal, at least not in the eyes of a search engine. If you decide to market your webinar through a press release, knowing how search engines work is critical. Below are some tips to help your press release rise to the top of the list when some company executive or manager surfs the web to keep up with the newest thing in the field.
- Use keywords in the title: Remember no one will be using the word "webinar" in their news engine search. If your company is well known, they may be looking for news on that as well. Use something like "Spud Corp. Offers Webinar for Hazardous Waste Engineers Handling Toxic Organic Compounds".
- Repeatedly mention keywords in the first paragraph: The first paragraph is where search engine rubber meets the road. It where they decide what the press release is all about. Use as many alternative spellings as you can, just in case a searcher might use "computer" instead of "IT". Whatever you do, don't use any keyword more than five times because the search engine then begins to think this is commercial span as opposed to a real news item.
- Put a worded hotlink to your site in the first paragraph: Most business news readers only scan the first paragraph, so no matter how much you want to put down all the info and then put the contact link at the bottom of the page. Don't do it. Associate your link with some well worded prose in the first paragraph where it is more likely to be seen and in such a way that it does not look like "marketing".
- Put some keywords in your hotlink: Search engines actually read the words in your hotlink not only to determine how to rank your press release, but also see if your landing page (which should be the webinar registration page) should be listed on the search engine.
As technology has advanced, making on-line training and information exchange simpler and more interactive, and as businesses and users become more familiar with online distance learning technologies, the webinar marketplace has exploded. The webinar industry is expanding at a rate of 20-30% each year. What this means to you is that search engines that are already swamped with webinar offerings will soon be more than swamped.
Let's say your company wants to move into the training field, or some other information-provider-oriented area. Because the Internet can reach an international, as opposed to local, audience and everyone saves on time and travel, let's say webinars are being considered as the medium of choice. As we know, it's one thing to create a great webinar and another to reach the people who might want to take it, especially with the crowded, ever growing field of webinar providers.
Of course your company can always simply list the webinar on its website and hope someone randomly types in the right key words and goes down low enough on the list of links on their search page and then is intrigued enough by the byline to click on the link and decide it is just what they have been looking for.
It can cost big money to register for Google AdWords or some similar search engine pay-for-placement/click utility to shunt potential users to your company's webinar. But did you know you can get great visibility by sending out a press release through Business Wire, PR Newswire, or Market Wire? Releases to these news providers get picked up by search engine news sites like Google, MSN, and Yahoo News. And the cost is a generally very reasonable flat rate AND it stays visible to search engines for 21-28 days.
Every day, companies and executives surf these news sites using industry key words to find articles of interest and if you word your press release right, you could reach your intended audience more quickly (and cheaply) than you might guess.
We are starting a new feature for our blog. We are going to post a picture of the week taken by members of the AccuConference team – so without further pause, here’s our first: