Today let us talk about proper etiquette during Instant Messaging (IM) business conversations.

More and more business professionals are using various forms of on-line communication to reach out to prospects and clients. They are employing instant messaging as a way to conduct business in a whole new way.

Instant Messaging

Also known as IM, is the primary reason many people go on line. Using live chat software, you can “chat” with anyone instantly on-line, no matter where they are in the world.

Instant Messaging Manners

Unfortunately, there are many people who do not understand the manners that should be used while chatting. In order to have better etiquette and practices during your chat sessions there are some simple tips that you should follow.

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Selecting your Avatar

Your avatar is a visual representation of yourself. This allows the person you are chatting with to have an idea of what you look like. If you are just chatting on a casual basis, you may want to use an unconventional or creative avatar. However, if you are using your chatting for business and are talking with business associates or superiors, you will want to use a more professional looking avatar. Doing this will allow you to gain respect from the person you are chatting with.

It is advisable to create two separate Instant Messenger accounts. Use one instant messenger account for your casual chats with friends and family and the second instant messenger account for all of your business or professional communications.

Starting an IM Chat with Clients

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It can be a real challenge to decide how to start an IM conversation with a client. This is even more true if you notice that their on-line status states that they are busy. If your client does not have your Instant Messenger screen name, it is vital that you include a brief and to the point description of who you are when you first make contact. You will also want to include a polite greeting. You may want to start with something like, “Good morning / Good afternoon, John / Mary or such like,” and then attach your full name and any other vital information. Unless you are talking to a long-time friend, you will not want to start your IM chat with, “Hi there!”

Timing Issues

You need to be sensitive. Most people feel it is very annoying when they are trying to get work done and the IM window pops up. Especially if the person sending the Instant Messenger continues to send your messages and never takes the time to find out if you are busy or not. It is even more annoying when a person “buzzes” an IM contact and they fail to respond quickly. However, if a person does not respond, it usually indicates that they are busy or not interested in chatting at present. Be sure to be polite in your approach to the person, this will ensure the person you are contacting shall take the time to let you know if they are interested in chatting or not. It is important not to pressure a person to chat if he/she does not want to.

Define the purpose of the IM Chat

Any time you are chatting about business matters, be sure that your messages have a definite purpose. Be ready to start the chat at the designated time, with everything you need within easy reach. Remember most business personnel have a very busy schedule and do not have time to wait. If it helps, draft an outline of the topics you want to discuss and stick to the schedule, this will cut down on interruptions and ensure a more productive IM Chat. Any time you are sending messages to a client or business associate, be sure your message is as brief and to the point as possible. You have to maximize the limited space and characters you are given in the chat box.


It is vital that you don’t send chat messages that are in all UPPER CASE. According to instant messaging etiquette, this is very rude.

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Ending a chat message

You would not just put the phone down on a friend or business colleague, so why would you do it on IM chat. The person on the other end of the chat may be expecting a response. With this in mind, be sure the person on the other end understands that you are ready for the conversation to end. If you were having an important discussion, be sure that the person on the other end does not need any further clarifications and that he/she does not have any questions. Any time you need to leave, be sure to explain it to them properly and leave a closing greeting.

By following these proper and easy to implement Instant Messaging etiquette guidelines you will be sure to leave a good impression every time you chat with a customer, client or prospect on line.

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