Monday, August 3, 2009

I received my Google Voice Invite and You Should Too!

Last week I was talking to a friend on the beach who told me she couldn’t read an email I sent her because she didn’t have her BlackBerry with her. Instead she explained that she only had her personal phone. She said sometimes she just carries her work phone. Sometimes just her personal phone, sometimes both. I asked her how she manages all this phone swapping and inquired as to why she would even want two phones to carry around and switch off. She answered by saying that she couldn’t just use her work phone in case she changed jobs, so she needed a personal phone so that everyone would know how to reach her should she switch jobs.

Well! All the phone swapping is exhausting and hard to keep up with. So much so, that during a recent swap attempt a phone went a flying and splattered causing her to miss a good portion of our next day on the beach dealing with its replacement. Now, if my friend had Google Voice, this would not be an issue.

Google Voice gives you one phone number that is tied to you. Not a particular phone or location. Additionally, you can chose to have that phone number ring any phone you’d like. As a result, you can pick just one phone to take with you and all your phones will ring into it. Users never again need to carry multiple phones or swap phones. While that alone is a reason to use Google Voice, there are many other reasons. The biggest impetus for my getting Google Voice was that I learned that it converts all your voicemails to text and sends your phone a message with the converted voicemail to text. How fabulous is that?!?!!! Never again do you need to transcribe a message, or sort through 4 voicemails to get to the one you were trying to listen to. But wait, there’s more! Google voice allows you to let a call go to voicemail and allows you to ListenInTM on your voicemail messages while they are being left. If you decide to take the call, you can connect to the call by pressing “*.” You can also record your conversation and listen to it later. A simple and easy way to capture audio for podcasts or conversations with experts that students can listen to at any time. Google Voice also provides conference calling.

This video provides a nice overview of what you’ll get with Google Voice.

If this sounds good to you, here’s how you get started:


Request an invitation

Visit to sign up for Google Voice.

Accept the invitation

Be on the lookout for an invitation from Google Voice to your email. You’ll accept your invite there.


Choosing Your Number

Next you will be able to select a phone number that will be yours forever. Choose wisely. What number do you want? You’ll need to select an area code. Many of the most popular area codes aren’t available (for instance 212 and 646 are unavailable), but there seems to be codes for every city (for instance, I was able to get 347 for New York City).

Your number can also spell out a word. After a lot of experimenting, I found it’s best to figure out a four letter word. My number is 635-LISA. You’ll want to have a word in mind when you set up your account.

Selecting Which Phones Ring

You can determine which phones ring when this number is called. Think in advance if you want your cell, work, home phone to ring when calls come in.

Importing Your Contacts

Next you’ll want to ensure all your contacts are in your new Google Voice account. This is surprisingly easy to do. These two posts provide everything you need to know. How to Export Your Outlook Contacts to a CSV File and Importing contacts by CSV. This took me about 5 – 10 minutes to do.


Test it out

Get your significant other, kid, or friend to try it out with you. Have them call you and leave a voicemail. You’ll see how it comes in as a text. Have then call you again and listen in as they leave a voicemail. Have them call you again and record your conversation.

Share Your Number

Once you’ve tested the service and are comfortable, it’s time to share your number. I updated my number on all our communication systems at work. I also updated my email signature in my BlackBerry and in Outlook. You’ll also want to update your business cards.

I really love my Google Voice and am thrilled to be able to share with other innovative educators what you can do to get started with your very own Google Voice number too! When you do, drop a comment here and let me know how it’s going. I'd also love to capture any cool ways innovative educators are using this in education. For inspiration check out how high school teacher Chris Fritz is Managing Student Calls with Google Voice.


Question from my Facebook Friend:

Renuka D GurnaniRenuka so i have one basic question...what is the cost?
Lisa Velmer NielsenLisa Velmer Nielsen It's Google! It's free!


  1. Lisa, what you fail to mention is a dangerous side effect of GoogleVoice -- you want to give everyone you number.

  2. Lisa the post was great to read. It is a pleasure watching your site grow and mature, GREAT JOB1

  3. I just received my Google Voice confirmation email and have set up my account. Can't wait to begin receiving calls! What a great way to organize my various phone numbers! Thanks for sharing this!!!

  4. How long did it take to get an invite after you registered for one on Google's site?

  5. @Peter, it took a few weeks to get an invite after I placed my request.

  6. Here's a great Google Voice tip. For people who still have your old number, you can forward your unanswered calls to your Google Voice number this way your voicemails will still be converted to text.

  7. Can anyone suggest a way to get an expedited invite?

  8. I have questions about this GOOGLE VOICE.

    I applied and got an invite and tried to activate it, but when I put in my preferred last 4 digits, the places were no where near where I live.

    IS THAT a problem for people having to call a long distance number? Does it make people think you live in that town?

    This is not a problem b/c my cell phone number is still for IL and I have moved to NC, (SO I AM USED TO THAT!) but will there be a long distance call if the town it is for is farther away from where I AM?

    I know if people are using a cell phone with free long distance that is not a problem, but if parents are still using a land line, or if soomeone is calling me from a school that does not have unlimited long distance, what happens?

    Otherwise, I am anxious to start.

    Also what happens if you try it and you do not like it? can you opt out EASILY? and then all those people you gave your GOOGLE number to how do they get in touch is there a temporary forwarding service?



    I just can't seem to find any infomation on how it works except the video from GOOGLE and your comments, is there any users group of people to ask questions?

  9. @fivbert, I no longer think of phones being tied to places, but rather I think of phones and other mobile technologies being tied to people. I think that's a shift in thinking for some. I would not be too concerned about a number making people think you live somewhere other than where you live as the point is you can place and receive calls from any location that both parties have phone service. As far as long distance fees, that is a phone carrier question, but I do believe most carriers these days charge by airtime rather than area code. Because some people may call from a land line I would use a local area code and there may be alternate codes with which you are unfamiliar. For instance I am using 347 for NYC which I found by doing a google search for area codes where I live.

    If you try and and don't like it, it would be just like changing numbers and you stop having calls forwarded to your various phones. Nothing would need to be forwarded as all the calls you didn't take would still go to voicemail or to you in the meantime.

    The voice quality is excellent. It sounds just like a regular phone. As far as a usergroup, I'd do a Google search for a Google voice discussion or start your own on Classroom 2.0.

    You sound a bit anxious about all this. For now, I'd recommend just testing it out with a few people. Once you feel comfortable you can use it more widely. Personally, I went all in and switched my number everywhere. I have been very happy.

  10. Can GV be transferred to my cell and will it use up my cell minutes?

  11. Can someone please invite me I, I really need one. I'm in the military and this would really help me communicate with my family since we are apart. my email is