Going a little more analog (courtesy euzesio on Flickr CC)One of the great benefits of hanging around with tech-savvy people at events like Social Media Breakfasts, tweetups, SOBCon, etc. is that I’ve picked up some very helpful tools for communications and information sharing.

These are in the “toolbag” of just about everyone who is active on the social Web….

1)  Skype (with headset)Skype is the telephone of the Internet. This basic “let’s talk” tool costs nothing to download and install on your computer, and you can use it for free one-to-one conversations or group conference calls around the world.  I’ve used it for almost two years with a monthly business mastermind group, plus one-off calls like a recent one with my fellow Perceptive Travel Blog writers (scattered across Tennessee, New York, Texas and New Zealand.)  You can use Skype with your computer’s built-in microphone, but there are feedback/audio problems. Buy a $20-30 headset at an electronics store before that first call (I use a comfy one from Logitech that plugs in via USB port.)

2)  Google Docs – Again, free. All you need is a Google account (which also gives you the well-regarded Gmail email, another geek staple.)  Google Docs allows you to share and edit a document, simultaneously if you’d like, across multiple users. No more emailing that .doc or PDF back and forth!  You can also create presentations, forms and spreadsheets. Did I say:  free?  You can also password protect your creations.  How do Becky and I run Tourism Currents? We use Skype video meetings and Google Docs.

3)  Webcam – You may have a webcam (Web camera) already installed at the top of your screen or monitor, or you can buy an external one that you plug in (I use this one from Logitech.)  With a webcam you can livestream to the Web using UStream (geeks are always livestreaming stuff) and you can also do Skype video calls.

4)  SlideShare – After a presentation to a techy audience, I almost guarantee that someone will say, “Will this be up on SlideShare?”  Don’t look at them blankly; have an account set up and upload your presentation slides.  No more emailing huge Power Point slide files.  SlideShare costs nothing; here are my uploaded presentations.  Here’s what you get on SlideShare when you search for presentations on tourism and social media.  Nice, huh?

Did I miss any obvious ones?  Please chime in with your suggestions in the comments.