AIM and the Workplace: 4 Instant Messenger Lessons to Apply in Business

Last week, I was talking to a friend over dinner who told me about her first week at her first job. After four years of undergraduate studies and three years of graduate school, she was experiencing a whole new “working” world. During dinner she mentioned that she was going to be away for a conference later in the week and that she was struggling with her away message.

Away message?!


While she was not too far off, I quickly corrected her and explained that what she meant was an “out of office.” While we laughed about this slight slip-up, I started thinking about all the other AOL Instant Messenger functions that could be applied in the everyday business world.

So for every recent graduate out there who may be overwhelmed by their first week on the job — never fear! Simply harken back to your days spent under an alias along the lines of Browneyes8988, BeBeBabe122, BBall662, or a variation on any of those themes, and you’ll be golden!

4 Ways You Can Apply Instant Messenger Lessons to Your Daily Business

1) AIM Profile

The AIM profile was your place to express the “true you.” Being your authentic self is key. Whether that comes in the form of Notebook quotes or pink and green typography, it is important to stay true to who you are. Take those sentiments from AIM and put them on your LinkedIn profile. (But check the cheeky quotes at the door.) Building up your virtual network of industry professionals will help you in both the short and long term, especially if you are in sales.

2) Away Messages

Like my dear friend, there are going to be times in your career when you will not be in the office nor accessible by email. Therefore, the “out of office reply” is effectively the new away message. While the sentiment is the same, the delivery must be tweaked for a professional audience (“Out with the girls… Hit me up on my cell.” will not fly). If you are curious as to what your out of office should include, we’ve got you covered! Here is a quick checklist of what needs to be included:

  •             The dates out of the office
  •             The reason (if it is business related)
  •             The frequency with which you will check your email
  •             The day you will return
  •             The appropriate contact for pressing issues/emergencies 

3) Copy and Paste

That’s right, you have not escaped the danger of someone hitting the old ctrl+c, ctrl+v and letting others in on something you maybe wish you hadn’t said. In fact, the workplace magnifies the risks associated with putting personal thoughts/sentiments into writing. It is easy to rush through a response, or subject yourself to office gossip, but if AIM taught us anything it is that anything you say can be easily copied, pasted, and sent to even our worst frenemies. Lesson here: Be careful what you put into writing, and always think before you hit send.

4) Alerts/Blocking

Okay, I admit any time TurboRider146 logged on, my computer would moo. That way, I would be sure to hit him up with a well thought out “hiiii,” “yo,” or “What’s cookin!?” The same alerts can be used at work — especially if you work in a prospecting/sales role. Utilize free alert tools in order to better connect with leads and prospects. But remember, there is a fine line between sending custom emails and stalking your leads — use these tools to your advantage but be respectful so to not to get blocked!

What are some lessons from your AIM days you can apply to your daily business life?

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