Smart phones have become an essential tool in business and they can be particularly useful for freelancers because of the unparalleled level of flexibility and freedom they offer in terms of portability and remote connectivity.
There are a staggering 500,000 apps available for iPhone and a further 300,000 available on Android and those figures are growing at a rate of almost 1,000 apps every single day. The problem, therefore, is picking out the wheat from the chaff and discovering the apps that can genuinely enhance the way you work.
Here is a short list of the best free apps for freelancers that have been tried and tested in the furnace of real world experience.
1. LinkedIn (by LinkedIn Corporation) As every good contractor knows, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with over 120 million members. It is also increasingly becoming the stage upon which freelancers build their unique personal brand. The LinkedIn app has been recently revamped and allows you to manage your inbox, post updates, follow your groups, and keep tabs on your profile.
2. Dropbox (by Dropbox) If you are constantly moving between home, office, and client sites, synchronising and securing documents and other files can rapidly become a headache. The solution used to be a USB flash drive, but they are easy to lose and many organisations forbid their use for security reasons nowadays. Dropbox is a simple but effective solution that can securely synchronise and secure up to 2Gb of data across any laptops, desktops, and mobile devices that you specify.
3. Evernote (by Evernote) The elusive dream of the paperless office has never quite arrived and, although a contractor is likely to travel “lighter” than their permanent counterparts, the reality is that you will probably still use paper and pen when you are at client sites and in meetings. The real beauty of Evernote is that it allows you to take a photograph of your scribbled scrawling which then forms a fully text-searchable archive, saving you the unnecessary hassle of “typing up” your notes.
4. CardMunch (by LinkedIn Corporation) Business cards have a nasty habit of collecting dust on your desk, falling down the side of your car seat, lurking in forgotten suit jacket pockets, or hiding down the back of your sofa; which is not much use when you suddenly need to get hold of that person you met at a networking group 3 months ago. CardMunch offers you a quick and simple way of converting business cards to address book contacts, which can then also be added as connections on LinkedIn.
5. Hippo Remote LITE (by RoboHippo LLC) Using a Power Point clicker can make a presentation look and feel more professional but a decent clicker can cost up to £20 or more, and is easy to forget to bring it into the office, as well. Hippo Remote LITE allows you to achieve the same effect for free by installing a small local application on your laptop that interfaces directly with your Smart Phone over your nearest wi-fi connection allows you complete remote control over your presentation.
Peter Roy is a freelance project manager and productivity consultant.