Better manage the calls you make and receive with these four Web tools.
Hi there, The Digital Marketer here, ready to help you put the power of the Internet and technology to work for your business.
So many calls and meetings to make, so little time. If you're like me and can't afford a full-time personal assistant, managing your calls, appointments, and the level of access other people have to you can be a real challenge.
There are many tools on the Web for calendar management, contact management, and for taking care of some of the basic tasks that a human assistant usually handles. Automated web applications may not be ideal in every circumstance, but they sure are handy to use when hiring a personal assistant isn't currently in your budget. And most of them are free or very affordable.
Four Sites for Managing Calls and Contacts
Here are some sites for managing your calls and contacts with others.
1. Doodle - I remember when Doodle was a very basic and simple site that only had one function: allowing you to first input the days and times when you were free and then email others to enter their availabilities. Doodle showed you in green when everyone had compatible availabilities so you could then schedule your event.
These days, Doodle has expanded their offerings. They now have an option to include a pull-down time zone menu to help people in various time zones navigate the schedule. Additionally, an interface improvement allows you to click on dates on a calendar graphic rather than having to type in all of your dates by hand.
2. TimeBridge - The folks at TimeBridge are developing a whole suite of scheduling and communications tools. The first part of their service is similar to Doodle and allows you to enter your available dates and times, email others to have them fill in their preferred times, and then hone in on the best time for everyone. This service syncs with your iCal, Google, or Outlook Calendar.
The reason you might use TimeBridge over Outlook or Google Calendars is that TimeBridge allows you to send everyone participating in a meeting or call a calendar of potential dates and times, and-- without having to go back and forth --you can see the best date and time for everyone and lock it in right then and there. TimeBridge also has a service that allows you to hold your meeting through the TimeBridge site, distribute a toll number to all participants for a conference call, and even hold a web conference in which everyone on the call can share web sites, documents, and a collaborative white-board feature.
3. TimeDriver - One thing I feel that TimeBridge is missing from its suite of tools, but that is covered by TimeDriver, is the ability to limit the calendar access of others who are trying to schedule time with you. You start using TimeDriver by first syncing it with your Google or Outlook Calendar. Then you can drag your cursor across the TimeDriver calendar to set aside the times that you'd like to make available to others for meetings or calls. TimeDriver immediately recognizes potential conflicts and blocks those times from your availability calendar.
When you email others a link to your personal appointment scheduler or put that link on your web site, other people can access your TimeDriver calendar. And when they select the time slot they want, that slot will no longer be available to others. You’ll receive a notice letting you know who has scheduled with you and when that event will take place. Since a time slot becomes unavailable to others once someone claims it, this system is ideal for scheduling back-to-back calls or meetings rather than an event where many people participate at once.
4. AwayFind - Another handy communications tool I've been using is AwayFind. This tool allows me to set up specific criteria to customize how different people reach me. AwayFind operates as a gateway to me without revealing my private email address or mobile device number. I can customize a form for people to fill out with details about why they're contacting me and how I should reach them. They can also choose a category from a pull-down menu I’ve set up to specify the reason they want to get in touch.
So the way I've set up my AwayFind is to sort messages based on speaking engagement requests, requests to hire my company, friends trying to reconnect, truly urgent requests, or someone responding to me saying, "Hey, get in touch with me." Each category of contact request is set up to reach me in a different way: email alone, text messaging alone, or both email and text messaging if I’ve decided it’s truly critical to me. All I have to do to let others get in touch with me is to give them my AwayFind URL. From there, they fill out my customized form based on their needs. These forms will then be sent to me based on my contact criteria. You can reach me, by the way, at awayfind.com/alizasherman.
Bottom Line: Even if you don't have a real, live personal assistant, you can use a variety of helpful web tools to handle some of the basic tasks of managing your calendar and contacts.
That's all we have time for today. Visit the show’s website at digitalmarketer.quickanddirtytips.com for links to all of the sites mentioned in the show. If you'd like to ask a question or request a topic for The Digital Marketer, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message by calling 206-339-6279.
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Doodle - http://www.doodle.com
TimeBridge - http://www.timebridge.com
TimeDriver - http://www.timedriver.com
AwayFind - http://www.awayfind.com
Aliza's AwayFind - http://awayfind.com/alizasherman
Apps image courtesy of Shutterstock