Skype has launched a free online platform called Skype in the workspace, enabling small businesses to connect with potential customers, partners and suppliers across the globe.
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.
“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’re based, joining the Skype community allows you to make valuable personal connections in real-time, face-to-face.”
For start-ups, Cebeci said a range of experts and consultants are on hand to provide best practice and guidance for getting their ideas off the ground.
“As a first step, click ‘add a service’ and create an offer to publicly demonstrate your services,” he said.
In addition to helping the right people discover each business, Cebeci said Skype will “get busy” promoting their pages via other social media platforms.
For those looking to expand, Cebeci said businesses can arrange Skype sessions to showcase their product or service.
“Then, when an opportunity is over, the person you’ve done business with can instantly give you a testimonial of the product/service you offered,” Cebeci said.
Another feature of the platform is its “all-in-one convenience,” Cebeci said.
“Users can sign up in just 30 seconds using their LinkedIn profile, and sharing tools on the site allow users to share their latest business activities with their online network via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter,” he said.
“Whether it is video calling with Skype or by booking appointments to meet with new connections, it can all be done within the Skype in the workspace environment.”
“SITW is also open to the public. Consumers are able to use SITW as a directory of companies across the globe, offering them the ability to search and instantly connect with businesses.”
Founded in 2003, Skype was acquired by eBay in September 2005. In November 2009, it was sold to an investment group led by Silver Lake in a deal that valued the company at $US2.75 billion. Then in May last year, Microsoft bought Skype for $US8.5 billion.
The news comes just one day after Microsoft confirmed it is scrapping its instant messenger chat tool, Windows Live Messenger, and replacing it with Skype.
In the first quarter of next year, Messenger will “retire” in every country except China, Microsoft said.