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How to Handle Unasked for Business Texts and IMs

What to do about unasked for business texts?

Text Assumptions

Is it safe to assume that because everyone now has a smartphone and the ability to text that you can do so whenever you like? A site visitor noted that texting was now part of business and that texting is expected.

That’s not necessarily the case. Just because someone has a phone with them all the time doesn’t mean you get to text them at any time. I get to decide how I want to run my business, correct?

Other inquiries I’ve received were about how to handle unasked 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?
Business Email Etiquette Site Visitor

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 from the start. For example, 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! So I had to nip that in the bud. Not to mention there is no convenient way for me to document or archive those conversations. For my 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.

Be clear about when texting is appropriate—days, times, etc. Believe me; if you don’t, the 24/7 mentality will be assumed.

Then, there is the proper approach when texting associates you know don’t mind texting them. 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.

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