How can I best use Google Voice?

If you are fortunate enough to have received an invite to join the Google Voice beta, then you may be wondering what you should do with it. Here are some suggestions and also some pitfalls.

Suggestions

  1. If you live from your cell phone, Google Voice can help you protect access to that number. By placing your Google phone number on your business cards, email signatures or even your personal website/blog you don’t have to worry about abuse. It will act a screening mechanism. After you have established a relationship with someone you can share you real cell phone number.
  2. If you load your contacts into your Google account you can make intelligent decision on how those callers make it through to you. You can create a friends or family group that doesn’t have to announce their name before being forwarded to your phone. Or you can route callers not in your list directly to voicemail thereby limiting only know callers to your cell phone.
  3. Using their widget you can have Google connect you and a website visitor without exposing your real phone number. This is great for customer support or relationships that need a level of discretion.

Pitfalls

  1. You have to choose your area code when you create your account. Carefully think this through. Is there a move in your future? Are there multiple area codes available to you such that you can represent a presence in a city you may want to? If you so, choose wisely. It’s a one-time decision.
  2. Since the Google phone number you’ve chosen merely routes to another phone number, it is hard to respond to callers without exposing your real number. It can be done through the Google Voice system, but it’s likely more work than it’s worth.
  3. You cannot have two Google Voice numbers routing to the same phone number currently. While it would be nice to have a Google Voice work number and a Google Voice family number (that’s routes to you and your spouse), it won’t work. If you try to you will kick off the first account in place of the second.

Google Voice will grow and become even more powerful than its current adolescent self. When that happens its reach will have a significant impact into other applications currently supported by Google and used by us all.

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