Real estate investors (and entrepreneurs in general) are bombarded on a daily basis with the “latest and greatest” new tools, toys, programs, and _____ (you fill in the blanks.) There is always something that gets our attention.
It is really hard to stay focused on our core business at times because of all the “shiny objects” that come our way. The very traits that make us good entrepreneurs and real estate investors can also be the very same things that cause us problems. We are thinkers, creators and builders at heart. It is this same curiosity that gets us into trouble.
But there are also some pretty cool tools out there and I wanted to talk about two of them today; Google Voice and Google+ hangouts. Some folks may already be using these free tools, but I find that many more folks aren’t for one reason or another.
Shiny Objects; How Do You Determine Quickly Which Ones Are Valuable?
Here is the way I decide. If a tool can add value to my business (especially if it’s FREE), then it gets at least a quick look and a test run. I am a firm believer of using free tools that big companies have spent a lot of their money developing.
Google Voice (Google.com/voice) is a free tool that everyone should take advantage of. Most of us have a main phone number that we use for our businesses, but there are also times when it is nice to have another published phone number in addition to our main business phone number as a way to filter our calls.
Like most of the services Google provides, all you need to use it is to set up an account. What I like about Google Voice is that it helps you manage your calls, and it even transcribes the calls and sends them to your email so you can read it on your smart phone.
I have to admit that sometimes when a caller doesn’t speak clearly the transcription you receive can be pretty funny, but you will always be able to listen to the actual call.
For those folks using bandit signs, you can put a Google Voice phone number on those signs which prevents you from having to use your actual phone number.
Here Are Just a Few of the Cool Features of Google Voice
- You can set up custom greetings for different callers if you want to. For instance you can have one greeting for business and another one for your friends.
- If someone calls your Google Voice number you can have it ring one of your phones, all of your phones or you can also choose to have it go straight to voicemail.
- You have the ability to listen in while the voicemail is being recorded which is kind of cool. This works similar to the old answering machine for screening callers.
- One really nice feature is that you can send a free text message to the caller if you can’t speak to the person that moment but you want to let them know you received the call.
- You can “share voicemails” that are memorable or useful. Did you ever wonder how folks share those hilarious calls they get from angry sellers? You can do that with this free service.
- Conference calls are also easy with Google Voice
Here are 3 of suggestions for using Google Voice:
- Put this number on your Bandit Signs instead of your actual phone number.
NOTE from the Editor: Only use these signs in areas where they are legal.
- Use your Google Voice phone number when you place ads such as Craigslist ads
- You can put a Google Voice number on your squeeze pages
You can check it out here at: http://www.google.com/googlevoice/about.html
I know you’re wondering; is there an app for this? You bet!
Let’s move on…
I did my first Google+ Hangout this year, and I have to say that I find it intriguing. It was a bit confusing initially, but I think there is definitely a place for something like this in our businesses.
A lot of folks seem to be switching to this platform to replace some of their webinar events. One nice thing about Google+ Hangouts is that you can have the best of both worlds; you have the ability to share slides like in a traditional webinar with the added ability to see the faces of the participants. This platform is useful for interviews, meetings and “hangouts” such as masterminds to name just a few. Rather than simply doing a conference call, you can actually see each person on the screen.
When you set up a hangout, what you will see is one big screen and smaller screens below that one. All of the participants are shown. For instance, you could be conducting a mastermind meeting with 5 other participants. As each person speaks their face moves up to the “big screen”. The other participants remain below on the small screens. So the person speaking is always on the big screen. You can stream these events live or record them. This really makes events like conference calls a whole lot more fun and interactive.
One thing you want to do is to set this up properly from the start. You will need three things:
A Gmail account, a Google+ account and a YouTube account. Here is a link for you to get you started: http://www.google.com/hangouts/.
Think of your Gmail account, your YouTube account, and your Google+ Hangout account as one big tree where they all come together. You want all of these to be linked to the same Gmail account. You need a YouTube account because as soon as you are finished with your hangout, your video will be rendered and saved on YouTube. (Don’t worry if you want your recording to be private rather than a public video. This is easy to fix).
I have more than one Gmail account, and I made the mistake of signing into the wrong Gmail account when I did my first Google+ hangout. Therefore that video did not get posted on the correct YouTube account.
Remember that I said it will be posted automatically to YouTube if you initially chose this to set it up this way which most people do. It was quite an ordeal for me to get this moved over to the correct YouTube account so don’t make this same mistake. Be sure to set these accounts up so that they are connected properly.
What Are Some Ways Real Estate Investors Could Use Google+ Hangouts?
- Conference Calls
- Weekly recaps with your contractors
- Monthly calls with your property managers
- Mastermind Calls
- Brainstorming with other real estate investors or your accountability partner
- Coaching Calls
- “How To” instructional trainings and interviews
- End of the week re-caps with your virtual assistants
Once again, these “hangouts” don’t have to be made available to the public. Once they are uploaded to YouTube, they can be made private for viewing by select people. You can also use 3rd party recording software to record your hangouts if you don’t want to involve YouTube.
If you give these a try, I think you will find them to be very useful tools for your business.
Is anyone already using these free tools? Let us know how you use them.