When adding a new contact, they will not appear as online unless you add them to your watch list. I just figured this out last week and it occurred to me that unless my friends noticed the same thing then they would not know if I was available.
I don't know how many people will see this post but I am making it for those few who do read this blog. If you want to know when your contacts actually get online, make sure you add them to the contacts watch list.
Live long and die laughing.