In today’s increasingly global society, more companies are discovering the need to conduct business with customers, clients, and vendors from around the world. However, the expensive business travel – combined with the time and effort involved – can be a burden for even larger companies to bear. That’s why more businesses around the world are discovering new ways to manage international projects that center on virtual communication.
If you’re a project manager managing a global project, it’s vital for you to be able to connect with team members who might live in different countries or in different time zones. Luckily, a host of virtual communications tools have made it easier than ever for PMs to arrange meetings, communicate with team members, and make important decisions with teams from around the world – without even having to step in an airport. In this article, we’ll discuss the most powerful virtual tools you can use to manage international projects, including tips and techniques for optimizing your virtual communication:
- Conference Call Numbers: Placing international calls can be expensive. Having local numbers throughout the world can be even more expensive, as you’ll have to pay for each individual number. However, toll-free or paid conference call numbers easily eliminate these obstacles by giving a general number that can be accessed in any international location. What’s more, many of these conference call numbers are capable of hosting multiple calls, which means you can conduct your meetings with more international clients, employees, and vendors. Numerous vendors offer high-quality conference calls that can be utilized by organizations of all sizes and types.
- Video Conferencing Software: Video conferencing software allows multiple users to attend a virtual meeting using nothing more than a web cam and an Internet connection. Video conferencing software gives you the face-to-face interactions you need without resorting to the expense of business travel. You only need to send an email invite to your meeting attendees and designate a time to meet – it’s that simple. One of the most popular video conferencing software is Skype, a free service that allows you to host web meetings with anyone in the world. Companies that can afford to spend a little more money can invest in a more sophisticated brand like Microsoft Lync.
- Web-Enabled Computer Display Sharing: Many online services now allow for computer display sharing, which means you can hold a virtual meeting and share the information that’s on your computer. Web-enabled computer display sharing is usually performed in conjunction with video conferencing software, so be sure to find a service that offers these advantages. A web-enabled computer display sharing service is perfect to avoid any miscommunications that could arise as a result of attempting to disseminate complicated information. Free and subscription-fee computer display sharing services range from Join.me, WebEx.com, and TeamViewer.com (all are compatible with PC and Mac). Some even have mobile apps for iPad or other tablets.
- Social Media: Social media represents an excellent way to connect with friends and family. However, sites like Facebook and Twitter come with serious challenges for conducting business communications with clients or suppliers.
Some Warnings & Tips:
Now that we’ve explored the best virtual communication tools on the market, let’s take a look at some quick-fire tips you should remember when using any of these tools and software:
- Make sure that you keep minutes during any phone conversations and virtual meetings. Distribute these minutes of meetings (MOM) to attendees to ensure that no miscommunications have occurred.
- Always keep records of your phone calls and video meetings, especially if you’re conducting business with a new client or vendor. After all, a verbal contract is only worth the paper it was written on.
- Don’t use social media to communicate important project messages. Sending a message via Twitter or Facebook looks unprofessional, especially with other virtual communication tools available to you.
- Be sure to check your Internet access and response time before any virtual meeting. You don’t want your Internet to drop out right in the middle of an important conversation.
- Place links to your tools on your shared server so that team members can access them. Provide authorization codes and passwords to employees who require them, and set up a “test” session for all before the real thing.
The 21st century technology has revolutionized the way individuals communicate with each other – and this applies to the business world as well. Now business leaders can manage international projects, meet with clients in different time zones, and even make international sales without leaving the comfort of the office. Of course, effectively managing international projects is only possible with the aid of the best virtual communication tools. By using the tips in this article you’ll quickly discover that it’s simple and efficient to talk to clients, team members, and vendors from around the world.
How to Improve Your Communication Skills
To help you improve your communication skills and at the same time earn some PDUs, we are providing a few recommended online courses:
- Managing Effective Meetings: http://www.pdu-courses.com/Managing-Effective-Meetings.shtml
- Emotional Intelligence at Work: http://www.pdu-courses.com/Emotional-Intelligence-at-Work.shtml
- Advanced Interpersonal Skills: http://www.pdu-courses.com/Advanced-Interpersonal-Skills.shtml
- Effective Leadership Skills: http://www.pdu-courses.com/Effective-Leadership-Skills.shtml
- Obtaining Results Without Authority: http://www.pdu-courses.com/Obtaining-Results-without-Authority.shtml
- Effective Delegation: http://www.pdu-courses.com/Effective-Delegation.shtml