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6 Free Tools for Group Collaboration

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Chances are, in today's business world, you'll eventually need to collaborate with someone outside your geographical area. And although conference calls and emails offer excellent opportunities for group communication and collaboration, there are a few other (FREE) tools you might want to consider the next time you're working with a group.

1. Skype:

I absolutely love using Skype and have saved SO much money on long-distant phone calls thanks to this free internet-based tool. Not only can I get Skype on my computer, but also on my phone... so I can literally have a conference call with anyone at any time. I use Skype for video conferencing, voice chatting, and even for instant messaging. It's a great way to chat with one person or with an entire group.

2. Google Docs:

Googles Docs are a great way to share almost any document with specific people (or even with anyone via a unique URL assigned to each document).

Once you save something in Google Docs, you can then share that document with anyone else and give them permission to simply "view it" or "edit it" -- which is a great feature if a group of people is working together to collaborate on a sigle document.

3. Goggle Chat or Google Talk:

Both of these options are similar to Skype but you don't need to request people to follow you on Skype. As long as they are in your gmail address book, you can chat with them (either by video, voice, or just by typing).

I also love that Google Chat saves all your conversations and allows you to search through archived conversations just like you would search through your archived emails. Plus, since Gmail basically has unlimited storage, you'll never run out of space!

4. Facebook Groups:

You can create both private and secret groups and invite all your group members (as long as they have a Facebook account). Then, once you're all in a group, you can send an receive notifications, links, documents, videos, etc. via Facebook and/or email.

Every group member can leave their advice, tips, or comments on a particular post/idea and it's extremely easy to add more people to your group.

5. Dropbox:

This is another one of my favorite collaboration tools because it's just so simple to use and it's easily accessible from almost any device with internet access.

Dropbox can be used as a way to store all your personal documents and access them from any device with internet access... OR, you can save files into your "Public" folder and share them with your group members. This means you can save Word documents, Excel charts, brochures, PDF files, photos, videos, PowerPoint presentations, etc. all in one location and then anyone in your group can access them via the public Dropbox folder on their own computer or phone.

 6. Join.me:

Sign up for the free basic version of Join.me and you can quickly and easily share your computer screen with others in your group -- no conference room required!

Not only does Join.me require little to no IT support (it's that easy), there's also a really neat App available for smartphones -- which means you can collaborate and share a screen with up to 250 people anytime, anywhere.

What are your favorite collaboration tools?

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Comments

Matt Jurcich July 26, 2012

DropBox is a great tool, but has some tricky concepts that make it unsuitable for business use.  Did you know that BropBox gives all your data to Amazon to store it?  Did you know they can remove any content from the service at any time without notifying you?  Did you know they can stop, suspend or modify your services at any time without notifying you?  This may be fine for home use, but are critical pitfals businesses need to be aware of.

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