Instant Messaging first became really popular in the mid to late 1990's for staying in contact with friends and mainly members over the internet. Instant Messaging, also called IM, can be thought of a lot like a text based phone call. Since the early 2000's it is becoming more and more common for businesses to take advantage of instant messaging software to help keep in contact with suppliers, customers, employees and other business contacts.
If you want to use an instant message program to keep in contact with all or any of your business professionals, be sure to create an IM user policy. Employees will need to know how, where, when and who to instant message. Try creating a user policy for your business that presents your company and employees the way you want to be seen be customers and clients.
When instant messaging and creating your IM policy, keep in mind that IM's can be saved by either you and your employees and also by the other people you are talking to as well. Often you or your employees will need to use instant messaging to share files with customers and suppliers. Viruses can easily be transferred on files to your computer, so before you begin file sharing through IM, make sure you have a good anti- virus program on each of your computers.
People are very busy so a very important thing to remember is to keep IM conversations short, simple and to the point. Keep your friends and family contacts separate from your business and employee contacts so you can easily tell which of you business contacts are available during business hours.
Even if using instant message for your business sounds unprofessional or more complicated, look into enterprise instant messaging, which can be a real time saver when communicating with clients and customers or sending simple messages to employees and other business providers.