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FORTUNE Small Business:

Videoconferencing options for small biz

Small businesses can save cash on travel with these videoconferencing packages.

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(FORTUNE Small Business) -- Dear FSB: I own an executive-search firm that works with clients and job candidates worldwide. Meeting in person isn't always practical, so we use phone conferencing to introduce clients and candidates long distance. We think videoconferencing would work better. What are our options?

- Adam Zak, Managing Director, Adams & Associates International, Barrington, Ill.

Dear Adam: Experts say about 35% of the message in a conversation is conveyed with speech, while 65% comes from facial expressions and body language. So you're wise to want your clients and their potential hires to see each other.

Your options range from using the camera that is built in on many PC monitors (the video is low grade but free) to buying and installing a rig such as Cisco (CSCO, Fortune 500) TelePresence Suite, which costs about $300,000 and can work so well it's like being in the same room with associates a continent away. Even then your videoconference may be blurry, dark, or hard to hear if the parties in the other locales haven't made a similar investment.

Luckily there are ways to conduct quality videoconferences without any capital investment. In the U.S. and Canada you can rent a video-conference room at about 400 FedEx (FDX, Fortune 500)/Kinko's stores for $225 to $335 an hour plus various fees explained at fedexkinkos.com under In-Store Services.

For overseas clients and candidates, the Regus Group can set up a videoconference at any of more than 900 locations in 400 cities worldwide. Another firm, davincivirtual.com, does the same thing in about 600 cities internationally. "These firms have invested in top videoconferencing capability," says Martha DeGraw, director of product management at videoconferencing provider InterCall.  To top of page

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