How to Use Instant Messaging In a Correct Way

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Since the evolution of internet, instant messaging has come a long way. Initially, it was done through a command line interface and that too on a limited local network. Gradually with the advent of World Wide Web and graphical interface, instant messaging completely changed the way we used to communicate over long distances. Now you can not only communicate with more than one person simultaneously, but can also perform added tasks apart from regular instant messaging activity. Nowadays people use it for personal as well as for business purposes. But, how many of us are aware of instant messaging etiquette? Are you able to leverage this excellent communication medium in a better way to gain more than what you're getting right now? If not, here's a simple guide to help you get most out of your instant messaging conversations.

Ensure Your IM Profile Is Complete

Quite similar to social media profiles, your instant messaging profile reflects your identity. Incomplete or incorrect profile details not only portray wrong impression but also confuse your new contacts. Following are some of the mistakes most people do while completing their instant messaging profile.
  • Cryptic user id - I generally delete friends' requests coming from cryptic ids containing long sequence of alphanumeric string. You must choose a meaningful or at least readable id for your instant messaging profile. This ensures that your profile is not marked as spam by majority of users.
  • Blank or ambiguous description/bio - Some people leave the biography field empty. You must fill it describing yourself in 2 or 3 lines. This lets people know who you're and what you do. Again, it helps in connecting with like-minded contacts.
  • No profile photo - If you're adding your photo in your profile, you're increasing your credibility by leaps and bounds. People love to connect with other users online who have their photo attached with their profiles.
You may add link to your website or blog to your profile so that your contacts can visit and know more about you. You may also consider changing your photo at fixed intervals (e.g. every 3 months) to keep your profile fresh and interesting.

Get Familiar with IM Vocabulary

I've encountered several instant messaging users who are not aware of IM lingo and the related abbreviations that are often used during the conversation. Sometimes, it is very embarrassing for the user to ask the meaning of abbreviations again and again during the entire conversation.

You must learn the modern IM lingo so that you can not only speed up the conversation but can also help others who're not aware about it. Learning these abbreviations is very simple. In fact only 10 to 15 out of them are heavily used by the users. Rest of these abbreviations is used by small percentage of users.

Do Not Use All Caps during Formal Conversations

If you're chatting with your close friends or relatives, you can afford to talk in any way you want. But while doing formal conversations you must not type everything in capital letters. It's considered loud and against instant messaging etiquette.

In fact, it's not just applicable for IM conversations, but also for any type of textual conversations done online through different mediums. You can use all caps sometimes when you want to emphasize something.

Display Availability Status with Appropriate Message

Almost every instant messaging application provides you with ample options to update your availability status in different ways - both through textual message and the color. You must use this facility to let your contact list know when you're available for everyone and when you're busy chatting with an important client.

This way, people will not disturb you unnecessarily whenever you’re engaged in an important discussion or if you’re not available on the desk. You must post the custom message on your profile telling about your current availability status whenever you're leaving your chair or starting an important chat session.

Use Email & Social Media Accounts to Import Contacts

The best way to grow your chat contact list is to find your known friends hidden in your email accounts contact list. Almost every good instant messenger lets you import your contact list from various popular email services.

This way you can easily add your close friends, relatives, colleagues, clients and business partners to your chat list. Make sure you segregate these contacts into different groups for easy management. You can also import contacts from social media accounts like Facebook and Google+. Both these services let you export your friends list in an easy manner.

Learn To Identify Spammy Invites by Bots

As I mentioned earlier, usage of cryptic user id is often regarded as spammy behavior. Generally, fake instant messaging accounts contains scantily clad female pictures with cryptic ids topped with ambiguous biography.

You must be aware of such type of fake accounts as they are the primary source of injecting malicious software. These accounts also prey upon innocent victims by directing them to look alike sites for stealing the financial information. If you find a befriending request coming from a suspicious account, simply ignore and trash it altogether. You can also mark such accounts as spam if your instant messaging software gives you that facility. This helps in cleaning the entire network.

Be Polite and Helpful

Although we all know the benefits of being polite and helpful, still lots of people forget to be so while chatting online. We often forget that the id on the other side is not a machine but is a human like us. This problem is mostly due to distance and absence of face-to-face communication.

You must keep the habit of being helpful to everyone while chatting online. While doing business conversations, often things don't go the way we expect them to go. This is where most people lose their cool and cross the boundary. You must keep check on yourself and must think twice before pressing the 'Send' button during important conversations.

Use Multi Messenger

Nowadays we all have multiple accounts on different chatting services. This is due to that fact that some people prefer a specific platform while others do not. So to keep in touch with all of them we have to maintain multiple accounts across all popular chat services.

Conversing through their native chat client can be cumbersome as you have to open multiple chat clients associated with each service. The best solution to this problem is to install a multi messenger like Pidgin or Trillian. Once installed, you can include all your important chat accounts in a single multi messaging chat client. This gives you a centralized chat hub where you can converse with multiple people simultaneously and in an easy way.


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