A virtual organization gives you the power to bring in partners from around the globe to expand your business internationally. What is a virtual organization? A virtual organization is less structured then a "real" corporation; typically, no binding legal partnerships exist between the businesses. Further, a virtual organization is more structured than a virtual team, with relationships that extend beyond a single project.
When you want to become part of a virtual organization, you're looking for a group of independent business operators, successful in their realms, and a shared vision that keeps the entities working together toward a goal.
Where to Find Them
Virtual organizations mostly evolve from online research groups that have developed a shared vision and want to pursue business together, and virtual teams that have worked together on several projects and want to extend the relationship into a steady business.
To find an existing virtual organization, start looking where these groups might cluster, such as large Web-based discussion groups -- the Well, Salon, Utne. Broaden your search by asking people you like talking to online where they hang out. Or browse the list of forums at ForumOne.
Although virtual organizations will not use these public spaces for work, you should be able to tell if people in the group share regular working relationships and if they share a business vision. If you stay engaged and contribute to the conversation, you might be asked to join their more private discussion areas.
Take a Close Look
A healthy virtual organization strikes a balance between the practicality of bringing in shared work and the idealism of building a shared vision. If the group is not bringing in work or is working furiously without much sense of why, you're in the wrong place. A strong group will have more than one leader, a minimum of procedure, and at least half the group will bring in clients. If the group has only one person who leads and attracts clients, it's unlikely the group will stick together without taking on a more typical corporate structure.
It takes time to locate and evaluate potential virtual organizations. Spending the time to find the right one will more than pay off in new leads and opportunities.
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