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Text-messaging in business roles can be tricky

Keep messages as professional as possible.

Friday, February 21, 2014 - 12:01 am

Q.: Karen, is it OK for me to text-message people in business? If so, are there things I should be attentive to?

A.: Text-messaging people in business relationships can be a little tricky, especially if you have a new relationship with them.

Your first point of contact with a new client or business person makes the first impression. And first impressions are very powerful.

To me, a text message would be too relaxed. However, down the road, it might be a good way to communicate with someone you do business with.

Try emailing or even calling for the first point of contact. Make sure you are as careful with your email as you would be with any other correspondence. Be sure to have a professional email address, preferably your name. It's not easy for others to remember an email address that is composed of numbers and letters or nicknames that are only meaningful to you.

Be careful with acronyms and text and email shorthand. The people you are communicating with may not be up on all of the latest abbreviations. Again, your message should be as professional as possible.

Make sure the people you communicate with actually text. Many people don't like to text, so it is an important thing to know before you rely on that form of communication.

Short messages can be misinterpreted as curt. Make sure to write enough to make the right point. And if it is going to be a long text, use another way of communicating. It is always a good idea to pick up the telephone (remember those) periodically so people can hear the sound of your voice and get used to your style of talking. Even email can become too impersonal.

So, when in doubt, don't text.

Karen Hickman is a local certified etiquette/protocol consultant and owner of Professional Courtesy. To submit questions, email features@news-sentinel.com.