Redmond, Washington — Microsoft has embarked on a latest initiative, rolled out a commercial networking site enabling small businesses, startups and entrepreneurs to promote their products and expertise and interact with potential customers and partners primarily using Skype on a global scale.
The new website, called Skype in the workspace (SITW) available for public use, is free and already being used by about 500 small businesses that began participating in it during its six-month beta period, Microsoft said over the weekend.
Going forward, Skype empowers users to communicate via IM, group video conferencing and IP telephony, and Microsoft hopes that the SITW site will show entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses how they can use Skype to increase sales, find new customers, market their wares and connect with experts for advice.
Expounding on the release, Skype product marketing manager Ural Cebeci said there is “an opportunity for small business owners to share experiences with and learn from each other”.
“We have attracted 500 small businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs to sign up, representing industries from fields as diverse as smartphone design and business coaching,” he said in a blog.
SITW users will be able to do this after signing in with a Skype or LinkedIn account, where they can connect with experts, coaches and consultants, as well as post invitations to existing and potential customers and partners interested in learning more about their business via Skype sessions. Users can also share their SITW actions on their Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.
More so, “Skype in the workspace brings you closer than ever before to the customers, partners, suppliers and prospects that you need in order to be successful.” “No matter what your business or where you are based, joining the Skype community allows you to make valuable personal connections in real-time, face-to-face.”
Cebeci further stated, “With more than 280 million connected users each month, Skype offers a huge range of contacts for the small-business community.” “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,” he added.
As a matter of fact, via SITW, users can organize appointments, invite people to product demonstrations, deliver business proposals and offer feedback from a central resource. Even public testimonials can be transmitted through the service.
Surprisingly, earlier this week, Microsoft stunned many industry observers with its announcement that it will close Windows Live Messenger next year — except in mainland China — and that its users need to migrate over to Skype. Microsoft is also busy working to merge Skype into its enterprise productivity and collaboration products, including Office, Lync and SharePoint.
To sign up for the workspace community, all you need is a standard Skype account. Visit workspace.skype.com to register and create an SITW profile.