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26 May 2004
Using IM
Instant messaging combines real-time communications with the brevity and ease of email. Initially a business application, then hijacked by teens, its utility is being reclaimed by mobile professionals. Christopher Saunders, managing editor of Jupitermedia's, suggests using IM to

  • Detect the availability of contacts without waiting for e-mail response.
  • Avoid getting hung up in phone tag or voicemail.
  • Speed decision-making and manage problems expediently.
  • Share files, collaborate in real time.
  • Gather information and make decisions while enroute from meeting to meeting.
To take full advantage of IM:
  • Be religious about using settings that let folks know when you're unavailable or on a mobile device.
  • Choose your IM program based on what your contacts use. Different IM systems don't talk to each other.
  • Urge colleagues to use it: The value of IM increases as more users exploit it.
  • Don't expect privacy. Messages are easily copied, pasted and shared.
  • Watch what you say. It feels informal, so your filters drop, increasing the risk of blunders. Remember: it's still business.

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