The Freelancer’s Ultimate Introduction to Google+ Hangouts

Google+ provides some interesting tools for freelancers, including Google+ Brand Pages. Another aspect of Google+ that freelancers should consider is the Hangouts feature.

Google+ Hangouts is one of the most interesting social media tools currently available for freelancers (and others). It is also one of the unique Google+ features that helps to distinguish Google+ from other social media tools.

If you’re a freelancer, you should look into the various ways that Google+ Hangouts can help your freelancing business. In this post, I’ll explain why freelancers should be interested in Google+ Hangouts, describe briefly how you can get started with Google+ Hangouts, and help you find some good Hangouts for freelancers.

Why You Should Be Interested in Google+ Hangouts

Google+ Hangouts offers a great opportunity for freelancers to connect on a more personal level with individuals they would ordinarily not be able to interact with on a face-to-face basis. Google+ Hangouts are easy to use, versatile, and free of charge.

On her blog, Fix Your Broken Marketing, Jodi Kaplan identifies ten ways that freelancers can use Google+ Hangouts including:

  • Hosting a conference call
  • Brainstorming
  • Training
  • Holding a status meeting
  • Networking

Other Google+ Hangout uses for freelancers could include:

  • Building a community
  • Discussing potential projects with prospective clients (replacing the sales call)
  • Collaborating on a group project
  • Holding “office hours” for clients

Google+ Hangout sessions can also be recorded, so a team meeting can be shared with absent members at a later date. Also, this means that a training session could potentially be used over and over. In fact, the possibilities for using hangouts abound for freelancers. You can probably think of Google+ Hangout uses for your own freelancing business.

An important factor to keep in mind is that, for right now, Google+ Hangouts is limited to ten people (including the person who initiated the hangout). So, if you have a need to connect with more people, you’ll need to use another method of communication.

What You’ll Need to Get Started

To take advantage of Google+ Hangouts, you’ll need the following:

  • Computer with internet connection
  • Google+ account. (If you do not have a Google+ account yet, you can go here to set one up.)
  • Google voice and video plug-in. (You can download these plug-ins here.)
  • Webcam for video chat or a microphone for audio only. (A text chat area is included in hangouts for those users who have neither a webcam or microphone.)

Freelancers are used to working at home, often in very casual attire. However, if you’re taking part in a Google+ Hangout to advance your freelancing business, you’ll want to pay a bit more attention to your appearance. Replace those rumpled pajamas or scruffy sweats with something a bit nicer and make sure that your hair is neatly combed. Don’t forget to straighten up your office a bit too, since Hangout participants will be able to see everything that’s directly behind you.

How to Get Going with Google+ Hangouts

Are you ready to set up your own Google+ Hangout? It’s actually very easy, provided that you have all of the right equipment in place. (See the list above.)

There are basically two ways that you can start a Google+ Hangout.

  • Click the Hang Out link under a Google+ post. (Each Google+ post has three links: Comment, Hang Out, and Share.)
  • Click the Start a Hangout icon on the far right of your Google+ screen. (You can also try Hang Outs + Extras, which contains other features such as the ability to name your Hangout.)

Once you’ve started a Hangout, you’ll get a screen that prompts you to check your hair and make sure your microphone works. At the bottom of this screen, you also have options to mute video, mute mic, and tweak your settings. Once you’ve taken care of all that, simply click the green Hang Out button in the middle of the screen to start your Google+ Hangout.

You’ll notice the hangout screen has additional options at the bottom including:

  • Invite–Lets you invite others.
  • Chat–Text only chat that can be helpful for sharing links.
  • YouTube–Use to view a YouTube video in your hangout.

Like all social media, Google+ Hangouts frequently updates and adds new features. However, this should be enough information to get you started on using Google+ Hangouts for your freelancing business.

How to Find Some Good Google+ Hangouts

Finding a good Google+ Hangout can be difficult, because not all hangouts are named or permanent. And, of course, active hangouts are changing constantly. In fact, the best Google+ Hangout may wind up being the one that you start yourself. :)

However, the site has some great tools to help you find hangouts including:

  • A list of permanent hangouts
  • A way to search current Google+ Hangouts by category
  • A means of scheduling future hangouts.

More Resources

Want to learn even more about Google+ Hangouts? Here are some additional resources:

Your Turn

Do you use Google+ Hangouts for your freelancing business? If so, how do you use this feature? Do you have any permanent Google+ Hangouts that you’ve found particularly useful? Which ones?

Share your answers in the comments below.

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