Skype today launched a new platform to enable small businesses to connect with one another and potential customers.
Named Skype in the workspace, the website enables businesses to set themselves up with an online presence and begin connecting with a variety of other businesses that may be interested in establishing partnerships.
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New users can sign up with their LinkedIn accounts and from there share any activity that takes place on the hub through their established social networks on the likes of Twitter or Facebook.
They can organise Skype calls with other companies, be it to get advice about building on their ideas to turn it into a business or for potential partnering. Special advice blogs are offered up for free.
Skype in the workspace also hopes to become a central database for customers looking for services from small businesses.
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This means they will be able to contact the firms directly through the website and use Skype calling to make the interaction more personal.
The platform has been in beta since May and Skype boasts that 500 small businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs have signed up, in areas ranging from photography to marketing.
Ural Cebeci, product marketing manager for Skype, wrote on his blog: “At Skype, we believe there's an opportunity for small business owners to share experiences with and learn from each other. This is why today we are opening the Skype in the workspace platform to the public.”
“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.”
The site is free for all users but businesses will need to register for a Skype account to join.
Microsoft bought Skype for $8.5bn in October 2011.