The Value Of Virtual Meetings

Meet with clients from the comfort of your home office via the Internet.
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This story appears in the July 2000 issue of Startups. Subscribe »
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Considering wasting two days flying to attend a two-hour meeting with a prospect who might not pan out? Perish the thought. Today, several companies specialize in putting together cyber conferences, thus eliminating the hassle and expense of travel and allowing you to meet with customers, prospects or colleagues from the comfort of your home office.

In many cases, with only a phone and 28.8K Internet connection, you can make your marketing efforts more immediate with interactive meetings that range from one-on-one client presentations to intimate peer pow-wows. You can also integrate all types of media, including PowerPoint slides, streaming audio and video, and live demonstrations. Web conferencing companies like WebEx, PlaceWare and Contigo all offer either free or affordable virtual small-meeting space. Both PlaceWare's My Placeware and WebEx's Free Meetings software are free for small groups of up to five people. Contigo's i2i Meetings software costs $2,799 for meetings with up to 10 people but includes unlimited usage during a specified period of time.

"Because multitasking is so crucial today, there's an increasing demand to hold meetings that don't require participants to be physically present," said Barry James Folsom, president and CEO of PlaceWare. "Web conferencing makes virtual meetings an affordable reality."

It also makes meetings a more convenient reality. Besides being able to grab lunch and chat with customers (and maybe even feed the dog if you're an expert multitasker) at the same time, virtual meetings also eliminate geographical boundaries. This means if you're a globally-minded entrepreneur, you can still talk in real time-albeit at some strange hours-with a customer in Europe or Asia. Check out the aforementioned Web sites for free demos.

Edition: June 2017

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