Wyoming Business Tips for March 3

February 25, 2013

A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.

Margie E. Rowell, Wyoming Entrepreneur Procurement Technical Assistance Center regional director

“Do you know of ways to collaborate with employees, team members and stakeholders effectively and efficiently online?” Jason, Lander

In this column, I will turn to Aliza Sherman, Web pioneer and digital marketing consultant (http://alizasherman.com) for some tips.

Virtual collaboration gives you and others the flexibility to access content and resources from a computer anywhere at any time. Here are five different applications that offer collaboration tools that could help you generate more ideas, give easier access to the collaboration process and archive content for future reference.

Tracky: http://tracky.com. This social collaboration tool lets you create up to five groups or projects. Add tracks or tasks to the site, and then others you invite can access them, comment, attach files or add subtracks. Track what your collaborators are up to during the collaboration process through a social network-like feed. Tracky is easy to set up and is full of features that reveal themselves as you use it more and more.

Mightybell: http://mightybell.com.  If you’re looking for a more visual collaboration tool, use Mightybell to create a space where you can add posts, photos, questions, video, links, files and events. You can then invite others to participate in adding content and comments. Resources are presented in visual blocks, and you can access your space any time to use the data you’ve gathered collectively.

Stixy: http://stixy.com. If you’re looking for an easy-to-use but lighter-weight collaboration tool, Stixy uses sticky note-like annotations so you can invite others to add notes, photos, documents and to-do lists.

Bubble.us: http://bubbl.us. Another form of collaboration is the collaborative mind map or flowchart. Bubble.us lets you make free diagrams and invite others to build on your visual map. Great for planning and for mapping out a website or a process.

For a heavier-duty collaborative mindmapping, try MindMeister: http://mindmeister.com (starts at $4.99 per month for a personal account after a 30-day free trial).

Pinterest collaborativeboards: http://pinterest.com. If you use Pinterest already, you can set up collaborative boards with others who also use it. Even if you and your team members aren’t on Pinterest, you can all set up a free account just to use the collaborative boards. To invite others to these boards, you need to be following them or one of their boards first.

Similar to Mightybell, you can then jointly “pin” online content for the team to share including articles, blog posts, photographs, infographics and video to the collaborative board. There are limitations to Pinterest boards.

As you can see, collaboration online comes in many shapes and sizes. The key is finding a solution that is easy for everyone to access and use, and something that will keep your collaborative efforts in an always-accessible archive.

A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments is available at http://www.wyomingentrepreneur.typepad.com/blog/.

The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email wsbdc@uwyo.edu or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.

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