Skype launched today a new online platform that promotes the products and services of small businesses to new networks and connections worldwide, including potential customers, partners and suppliers.
Dubbed as Skype in the workspace (SITW), the complimentary tool takes advantage of the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and chat service’s huge network. For small businesses, it improves existing connections and creates new ones through instant messages (IMs) and talking to or meeting face-to-face with peers and business prospects.
The SITW community has already established itself because today’s launch picks up from where the six-month beta left off. The trial period allowed half a thousand businesses that offer over 140 different services to test the online platform.
“With more than 280 million connected users each month, Skype offers a huge range of contacts for the small-business community,” said Ural Cebeci, head of SMB Marketing at Skype. “We aim to connect millions of small businesses with Skype in the workspace and believe that, by taking advantage of this shared network, businesses can develop the range of tools they need to grow, regardless of location or industry. From the designer in San Francisco looking to source textile suppliers in Thailand to the London consultant connecting with clients in Milan, the possibilities are endless.”
SITW will provide a central hub for entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses to connect with experts, coaches and consultants who can help them develop their businesses.
Users join the community using their existing Skype accounts, then through a series of promotional tools can create public “offers” or “opportunities” inviting community members to live sessions on Skype to demonstrate services or products to a wider audience.
Users can also book appointments with potential customers or suppliers and keep track of them with a meeting notification service. When an opportunity is over, users can instantly give testimonials on the product or service offered.
“Small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy,” Cebeci said. “For these businesses to survive and grow in what is still a tough economic climate, we understand that good communication and connections are key to their success.
“This is why today we are opening the Skype in the workspace platform to the public,” Cebeci said. “We feel we’re helping connect businesses face-to-face with their customers and prospects, no matter where they are located. It opens up a world of opportunity for them.”
Starting today, Skype users can opt to join SITW, and those who want to sign up for the community can register here.
Image: Beatrice Murch, via Flickr (CC)