Box.net-Communicate and Collaborate

Sales teams seeking an online collaboration and file-sharing WebTool need to consider Box.net, which promotes itself as a simple, powerful collaboration tool. Box was founded on this simple idea: it should be easy for people to access, work with and share all their content, wherever they are. LinkedIn Integration is an added bonus.

Box GraphicBox.net is primarily designed to share and collaborate on files and documents online.  Folders are designed to organize your information in a familiar way.  There is a Designated Profile Folder-anything that I put in there will be available for anyone looking at my profile to see.  You can also add Collaborative Folders that allow others of your choosing to view, edit and add documents for use in a work team or company.  In addition, there are 10 applications or services bundled in such as eFax (up to 100 pages per month-free) and Echosign (a free web service that allows you to send, approve and sign contracts electronically).

My name for Box.net is RFP Central. If your sales activity requires collaboration with teammates, management, subject matter experts, Vendors and even a Customer, Box.net is a WebTool  worthy of your consideration.

At its core, Box is an online filing cabinet, capable of storing your standard Microsoft Office file type like Word, Excel and PowerPoint.  It can also store audio, graphics, photo and video files with ease.  It feels right at home in today’s collaborative, inter-connected business activity with ever-changing individuals, departments, business partners and customers all desiring, and possibly requiring access to the work documents  important for the project. At the same time, if you are a company of one and no need or desire to share files or work activity with anyone else, Box is still an application that can provide answers to some of your daily challenges.

Box has four standard plans that they offer including Lite, Individual, Business and Enterprise.  Lite is the free version and is the version that is the focus of this post.  You can view the additional capabilities and benefits from the paid levels on the Box.net website.

With the Lite plan, you receive:

  • 5 collaboration folders
  • 1 GB of storage
  • Up to 25 MB per file (size)
  • Folder widget
  • OpenBox services
  • Mobile Access
  • Public file sharing

Signing up for your Box.net account is quick and simple.

  1. Browse to www.box.net
  2. Click the blue “Sign Up” button in the upper right hand corner
  3. Select the Plan of your choice – we are discussing Lite.
  4. Provide your Name, e-mail, password and phone number and click “Continue”.
  5. You will be given the option to “Create a Folder” which I recommend.
  6. Name the Folder.  I will be using “Starter” for our examples in this chapter.
  7. Decide who can access this folder.  Your choices are “Just me” or “Invite people to upload or download files”.
  8. If you elected to invite other people, you will then enter their email addresses and decide if they are “Editors” or “Viewers” and then “Create Folder”

Your basic Box setup is now complete.  Next we will explore the five tabs available in the Lite edition.

Updates: Your Updates page is a time-based overview of all the files that you upload, have been shared with you inside a collaboration folder, or have been sent to you from someone else’s Box account.  You have sub tabs of All Updates, Changes and Downloads.  Until you get lots of projects going, just view the All Updates tab.

All Files: You will see the files that you have in your “Starter” folder that you named during sign-up.  From here you are able to

  • Upload new files – upload documents, spreadsheets, photos, etc.
  • Invite collaborators – invite people to upload or download in this folder
  • Create a Web Document – create documents online for reports, projects and meetings.
  • Create a New Folder

Collaborators: this tab is really at the core of this application.  Its functionality allows you to share a folder with multiple people.  Each user will see the same folder in their Box.net account, so any time a new file is added; all the collaborators in the folder will see the latest files.  Use this collaboration for sharing presentations, contracts, project timelines and documents with colleagues, business partners or clients.

Profile: This is where you may provide more information about yourself including Title, Company, Phone Number and a photo.  If you are working on projects that include business partners, customers, vendors or others outside the company, this will prove to be helpful for everyone involved.

OpenBox: This is a unique feature of Box.  It is a collection of third party webtools that work within the Box environment.

  1. Echosign – a free web service that allows you to send, approve and sign contracts electronically, on the web.
  2. EditGrid – a fully featured online spreadsheet editor supporting Excel, Open Office, Open Document, CSV, Star Office and more.
  3. Zoho – An online productivity suite that allows you to edit documents and spreadsheets in your web browser.
  4. Box Web Doc – enables you to create and share information directly from your browser.  No need to download or load software.
  5. Picnik – Edit photos the easy way, online using your browser.
  6. eFax – a web service that allows you to fax any document in your Box.net account.  You enter the recipient’s fax number and they will receive a hard copy fax of your document.  There is a limit of 100 pages per month through this service
  7. iPaper – Preview PDF files, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations directly in your browser without any download.
  8. Facebook – this enables you to send a file to your Facebook friends or post a file to your Facebook profile.
  9. Gmail – you have the option of sending files through Gmail or Google Apps Mail if you are using this service.
  10. LinkedIn – this application, enabled via your LinkedIn account, allows you to
    1. Upload and manage your files from within LinkedIn.
    2. Post files to your LinkedIn profile.
    3. Share files and collaborate with your LinkedIn connections.
    4. View and edit your files online
    5. You select whether you display your box.net files on your LinkedIn Profile, your LinkedIn homepage or both.

Communicate, Collaborate and Win a few more RFP opportunities!

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