Several times a day, I chat with friends, family and partners via instant messenger services. I sometimes even chat with clients. But, as a general rule, I don’t give my IM account info to clients.
Instant messaging makes you seem within a client’s arm reach. Whereas they have no idea what you’re doing when you don’t immediately answer a call or email, instant messaging services make you look like you’re *right there*. And that’s a little too close for comfort when I’m juggling multiple clients and trying to get work done.
Still, for my best and most trusted clients, I make exceptions. These are the people who’ve been working with me for years and who’ve shown an ability to respect my time and privacy. They’re the clients for whom I’d wake up in the middle of the night and go help them jumpstart their car. In other words, they’re much more like close friends than clients now.
How about you? Do you instant message with clients? If so, do you "go offline" to avoid interruptions at certain times?