Social networking enables business owners to answer direct enquiries from colleagues, clients and potential new prospects. Timezones are less important when you can login to your instant messenger, see another user and chat real-time. With your IM client, you can swap notes, bring other people in to the meeting, get instant answers to technical queries and even swap files and documents.
Problem is, when you try and connect to your colleagues, everyone has their own idea of what they regard as their choice in instant messenger. Some use Windows Live, others AIM, some Google Talk, others IRC. Factor in the personal networking tools, MySpace and Facebook, and you’ll find that there’s no easy way of connecting to every colleague through one client.
Pidgin attempts to re-address this by enabling you to use one instant messenger to connect to multiple people through different networks. A full list of supported networks can be found on the Pidgin website, but one network that isn’t supported is Skype and it’s a big disappointment. Other multi-network IM clients such as Trillian Astra support Skype, Facebook and other popular networks. No doubt the Trillian guys have paid a license to support Skype as it’s a proprietary network.
Pidgin is free, doesn’t contain any adverts and ships with a very simple interface.
Decent and free tool that enables you to chat to other users across other IM networks. Doesn't support Skype though, used by many business users to keep in touch with key contacts