In our personal lives, the phone call is a dying breed, as people around the globe send around 16 million text messages every minute. However, small business communication is still traditionally carried out via email and phone calls. It could be texts are considered too short or casual to convey complex business ideas effectively, or it could be the professional world is simply resistant to change.
This poses the question as to whether it’s appropriate to use text messages at all for business purposes? Well, put simply, yes, it is. However, before you pick up your smartphone and start trying this “IRL” (that’s “In Real Life” in text speak, by the way), there are some points of etiquette which should be observed.
#1 Establish a Business Relationship First
You should never ever use text messages to make first contact in a business environment. Establish a relationship in person, on the phone, or by email, and then ask what their preferred method of communication is.
#2 No Drunk Texting
We jest, of course, but pay attention to the time when texting business associates. You should limit all communications to within working hours, as texting out of these times can make things seem more urgent than they are. You wouldn’t phone an associate as you’re getting into to bed, so don’t text them at those kinds of times either.
#3 Pay Attention to Length
Text messages should only really be used for brief updates or for touching base. If you can’t say what you need to in just a few lines of text, then an email or phone call is probably a better option. The same principle should be applied to complexity, if the issue requires an in-depth discussion, text is unlikely to be the best medium through which to achieve it.
Don’t text any confidential information. Text messaging is far less secure than other forms of communication, so don’t share anything you don’t want to fall into the wrong hands.
#5 Keep it Professional
Emojis, GIFS, and text speak are fun and convenient to use when chatting with your friends or family, but they should not be used in business communications.
#6 Reply Quickly
Texting does imply a certain sense of urgency, so don’t leave people hanging for a reply for hours or days on end. Once you’ve read and understood the message, formulate your response and send it off. Nobody is so busy they don’t have time to send a text.
#7 Don’t be Afraid to End the Conversation
Business-related text threads should not be open ended and ongoing. Once the necessary information has been communicated, you should end the conversations with a clear sign off. A quick “Thank you,” or “Let me know how it goes,” is much better than dragging out the conversation, or simply not responding to the last contact.
There are some great tips for texting in business. Remember to observe the etiquette and not to confuse business texts with personal ones and you should be fine.