Google+ Hangouts are an engaging social media channel that

  1. connects you with guests and partners in a personal way,
  2. allows you to speak directly to your audience, and
  3. creates highly sharable and engaging content for your brand.

Because we host Google+ Hangouts regularly, we have prepared this simple outline for getting ready if you have never joined a Hangout before. If you're already using Google+, skip to step 3...

1. Get a Gmail or Google Apps account

Most of us already have one of these, but if you don't have a gmail.com account or an email account that uses Google Apps (gmail for your business), you'll need to get one. Since Google+ is the only social media channel that requires you to have a specific kind of email account, this is a necessary step if you want to get the most out of the Google suite of services (Youtube, maps, gmail, etc.)

I have a gmail.com account that I forward my other personal and work-related email accounts to so I only have one inbox and it is tied to the other great services I use each day.

2. Get a Google+ Account

Even if you're already using Gmail, you still need to say yes to sharing across Google's services by setting up your Google+ account.

3. Get the Tech

On a computer:

On a mobile device:

4. Respond to the invitation from your friend

If you're getting ready for your first +Hangout that someone else is inviting you to, you'll receive an invitation in your Notifications section (a little box that lights up red in the top right of your Gmail or Google+ page - or any Google service page, for that matter - when there are any messages). The invitation to +Hangout will be there and all you have to do is click the link to join! And if you don't see it there, visit the Google+ profile page of the host and the invite should be one of their more recent posts.

A Few STRONG Recommendations

Use a headset with a microphone. I just use the headset that came with the iPhone I bought several years ago and it works like a charm. Most laptops, tablets and other devices made in recent years have built-in webcams but even those will often pick up a lot of the sounds around you and not just your voice. A personal microphone on a headset is much better at just picking up your voice, making the experience better for everyone.

Join a Trial Run

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Every Thursday morning at 10am EST Sociallogical hosts a FTH (First Time Hangout) for anyone who wants to try one out for the first time or just practice with a new change to your video or audio setup.

No pressure. No agenda. Just practice.

You'll need to add the host, Sociallogical, to your Google+ circles to see the invite. You'll see an invitation to the next FTH in our recent Google+ posts so you can say Yes and get notified of the next one.

Do you have any questions that we don't answer here? Let us know in the comments below.

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