According to http://gigaom.com/2010/04/20/skype-q4-2009-number/ there are over 650 million Skype users in the world. This simple online tool allows you to make internet voice and video calls to anywhere and save telecommunication costs, time driving meeting people face to face, and avoid miscommunication with one another by seeing body language in addition to voice.
Real estate professionals can use Skype in variety of ways to communicate with clients, network for referrals, and share confidential information. It is easy to get started using Skype to make calls however if you have a strategy and clear vision on how you will use this tool you can provide a whole new level of customer service than ever offered before.
You do need a computer with a high-speed Internet connection for this work smoothly. The person you call must also have Skype to make free calls (phone or video). If that person does not have Skype you can still call to landline phones however the video feature is not available unless both parties have Skype.
1. Create Your Profile
Before you download Skype on your computer you will need to create a Skype account for FREE. Create a username that is memorable to your name and business. Next, edit your Skype profile similar to a simple Linkedin profile. Add a picture, link to your website/blog and insert your professional bio so people will know who you are when they find your online profile especially if you have a common name.
2. Import your database
You can add contacts one by one searching for individuals or directly import your database into Skype. Search for individuals similar to prospecting for people using name, keywords, location, and position. You can save valuable time by importing from your current database management software, i.e, Microsoft Outlook. The import will search for email addresses of those profiles already created in Skype. The more Skype contacts you have the more money you will be able to use this tool for FREE.
3. Skype Instant Messaging
Instant messaging is a great way to send a favorite website to someone else, text to be edited for a marketing piece, or a informational video on YouTube. The instant message is less formal than email and can be a great way to communicate while you are multi-tasking on the phone and/or does not require an immediate response. You can instant message multiple people on Skype at the same time whereas phone calls and video calls are one on one.
4. Phone calling
Skype calls are free as long as both computers communicating with one another have Skype installed on to the computer. Also, you can make an unlimited # of outgoing phone calls for less than $30 a year. This includes other landline phones, mobile phones, and numbers domestic. Check out the rates for international calls, a small fraction compared to traditional services. http://www.skype.com/intl/en-us/features/prices/payg-rates.
I have found that you cannot dial into free teleconference services using Skype so it is best to use a landline. Also if your Internet connection is slow then the call will not have good reception.
At the very minimum you will need a good microphone that pick up your voice. If you choose a good webcam the microphone should be included as one piece.
You and the person calling will need a web cam to get started. My favorite webcam by Logitech specializes in audio/video for laptops. The newest model is the Logitech 2 MP HD Webcam Pro 9000 with Built-in Microphone.
Simply call the person and tap the video button. Once the video call is enabled you will see the person and they will see you. If this is not working correctly it could be that the camera is not connected properly or video call button was not pressed.
Here are some quick tips for video calls:
1. Use a solid color background behind you preferable in lighter colors.
2. Use the “Go to Full Screen” option so you can see the person blown up instead of just a small window inside a window.
3. A small video of you will show up so you can see what you look like on the other person’s screen. I suggest click and drag this video to the top middle of the screen or just beneath the video camera. This will make it look like you are talking to them directly instead of looking down.
4. Use the instant message feature to share notes, websites, or other ideas while you are on the video call.
6. Video Screen Sharing
This is one of my favorite features of Skype new as of May 2009. You can share whatever appears on your screen, movement of the mouse, along with your voice from the microphone.
Real estate professionals can share contracts visually (previewed not sent), marketing efforts, market statistics in real time instead of being physically present.
Brokers can hold virtual training sessions with agents from anywhere in the world. Imagine the Internet enabled laptop with speakers is connected to a projector and the broker can show the latest websites that impact their agents, new tools to be used along with other exciting announcements.
Video screen sharing is very similar to attending a webinar except it only works (at the moment) for one computer to the next. In other words you can’t have 50 people video Skype call with another at the same time.
Advance Skype Techniques
Calling from “Up in the Air”
I actually made a telephone call from 30,000 feet using the Wi-Fi connection on the airplane and the Skype iPhone application. The planes charge outrageous fees for calls using the phone inside the plane but the Wi-Fi connection was $9.99 unlimited. If the stewardess gives you a hard time you can just say you are using the Internet.
Recorded Video Interviews
If you have the video screen capture software Camtasia you can record the audio of you and another speaking, video of you and the other person, and video record of whatever displays on the screen. Skype gives you the ability to hold the call, Camtasia saves the call to be played back, edit, and produce a video to upload to YouTube or any other video hosting service. Try to interview other business partners such as mortgage professionals, inspectors, and title rep using Skype, and share the videos with clients, post to your blog, or other social networks.
Get a Skype Button
Visit this link, enter your username, and add a Skype button to your website