Effectively, you are creating your own "community" by exposing your Sametime environment to those external parties and "hosting" Sametime on their behalf.
Another method would involve using the Sametime Links toolkit to Sametime enable sections of your Web site (maybe through a secured/restricted area of the site) so that clients could "chat" with members of your organisation on an as-required basis. For example, a client placing an order might see a link on the order page enabling them to chat with a product specialist to address any queries the client might have.
The only consideration you would have in hosting Sametime on behalf of your external parties is licensing, so check with you local IBM representative as to which licensing model would suit your requirement.
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This was first published in August 2005