I recently wrote an article titled Business Texting Kiss of Death. I did receive a bit of push back on that one. One emailer noting that texting was now part of business and that I should “get with it”. Well, I get to decide how I want to run my business, correct?
More inquiries were about how to handle unasked for texts and instant messages. Here is an example that is indicative of several that I received:
Why do some assume that just because they text their family and friends at a whim that they can do so with me? This person is a business only contact and I don’t appreciate getting a text when I am having dinner with my family! How should I handle this person?
There are two types of unasked for requests. From those you know and those you do not know. How you handle each would probably be different.
Business Contacts You Know
Do you want to set the stage for future texts? If not, let them know you are not available by text for business. In my business, texting is not efficient or convenient for me. So I let my clients know from the very start that texting is not a form of communication that I utilize.
This came about after new clients assumed I was available by text any time of the day — and on weekends! Had to nip that in the bud. Not to mention there it no convenient way for me to document or archive those conversations. For business I choose to utilize email and phone only.
My approach may not work for everyone. And that’s fine. If you are open to accepting texts or instant messages from business contacts or associates you need to set ground rules right out the gate. When is appropriate? Days, times, etc. Believe me, if you don’t the 24/7 mentality will be adopted.
When texting associates who you know don’t mind your texting them during business hours, it is always best to start with “Is this a good time?”
Business Contacts You Don’t Know
Those I don’t know do not receive a response. If you’ve had a preliminary email contact do not assume because you have a phone number that you can text your new contact. In my case, if I have their email address they’ll receive an email noting I am not of service via texts or IMs.
Remember, we are talking about business texting and IMs. Because texting and IMs are the most informal of communications it helps to keep in mind that there is nothing informal about business.
If you do not want to offer texting as a communication tool, you have that right. Just be clear and kind about that up front. For those that don’t mind text messages during their business day, setting limitations and guidelines is a wise approach.
For more on Business Texting, read: Business Texting Etiquette