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Skype Launches ‘In the Workspace’ Business Network Center

Skype is a great tool for anyone who runs a virtual business. It’s one of the best ways to hold conference calls for free, run training sessions (you can show your desktop to the other person on the line) and it beats repeated back and forth emails when you need to hash out a project.

Given that, it’s not surprising the Skype wants to beef up their business presence but I’m not sure what to make of this new feature.

They call it Skype in the Workspace (SITW). Get it? WorkSPACE instead of WorkPLACE because it’s about working in cyberspace. . .

The site is a combination of LinkedIn and Craigslist. Anyone who signs up (it’s free) can “Create an Opportunity” to share with others. In non-Skype speak, it means you can advertise your services but the twist is that each offer comes with a 15 minute consultation.

That’s what it looks like to me, but honestly, the site is kind of light on instructions. Here’s how Skype explains it:

SITW will provide a central hub for entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses to connect with experts, coaches and consultants who can help them develop their businesses. Users join the community using their existing Skype accounts, then through a series of promotional tools can create public “offers” or “opportunities” inviting community members to live sessions on Skype to demonstrate services or products to a wider audience. Users can also book appointments with potential customers or suppliers and keep track of them with a meeting notification service. When an opportunity is over, users can instantly give testimonials on the product or service offered.

When you click through, you get a page with more detail, some more detailed than others. From there you can favorite the person for later or click Connect. Connect then leads you to a screen where you fill out a Connection Request which Skype forwards to the offer-ee. Then, presumably, they schedule a time to talk with me over Skype.

While I like the concept, the mechanics are clunky. The blocks, which just flow down the screen like a Tumblr page, are nothing more than classified ads and some people barely put any effort into the pitch.

Some of the “opportunities” are grouped into like categories thusly:

There is a search engine but it only works on the most basic level.

What really bothers me is the phraseology. To me, “Create an Opportunity” implies a job opening or worker needed. I need to hire a web designer so I create an opportunity. But on Workspace it means the opposite. Then there’s the clunky standard phrasing at the top of each block “So and So wants to meet about.” It cries out for punctuation, or at the very least, a single concept after.

“George wants to meet about Do you need help getting more followers on Facebook? I’ll show you how” doesn’t make sense.

More than anything, what’s the likelihood that anyone will use this tool to locate a freelancer, consultant or agency?

Skype, you’re on the right track but right now I’m more bewildered than impressed.

What do you think of Skype in the Workspace?