Texting business contacts is still a bit of a grey area for some. Building a network is a key aspect of the professional world but because of the somewhat intimate nature of texting the lines between personal and business, being friendly and professional can become blurry. So how do you navigate these fuzzy communication grounds? Be mindful of your content.
Content consists of the words you use, how you use them and your tone. The first thing you need to be weary of is being too casual or using shorthand. Since you’re texting it can be easy to forget that you’re not talking to a friend. Especially with regards to shorthand, it can make you look extremely unprofessional and in some cases incompetent. Personally I believe that unless you’re using a phone with an alphanumeric keyboard you have no excuse for using shorthand in any context, but I won’t get into that here.
The second thing you should be cautious of is the length of your messages. Getting to the point with your written communications is a topic I touch on quite frequently, and it is especially important when it comes to on the go communication like text messages. Unlike emails where there’s a good change the person reading it has set aside time specifically to go through mail, people don’t often designate time for reading texts. It’s likely that your message will be glanced at between meetings so it’s important to make sure your messages come in bite size chunks.
Now one of the trickiest parts of professional text etiquette is tone. It’s easy for your tone to be misinterpreted in any written communications but more so when texting. This isn’t scientifically proven but I believe the closeness that often underlies this method communicating makes it harder to separate personal from business. You could send the same message via text and email but because personal factors like emotions are more likely to come into play when reading a Whatsapp message, the interpretation could be different than if it was read on a work email. Sometimes your message will just be taken the wrong way no matter how you phrase it but some measures you can take are making sure you sound as neutral as possible and remain cordial.
With the way the world is changing, communications are going to keep moving more and more onto informal platforms. Just as written communications changed when we moved from writing letters to emails, communication platforms such Whatsapp and social media will likely change how business writing is done as well. Whichever way the writing landscape may change, however, Amras Communications will remain ahead of the game.