I feel like I know you

SmartCompany /

The internet makes it easy to find out about people before you meet them for the first time. It can help you tailor messages to sales prospects.

I feel like I know you

For a salesperson, the internet is an incredible boon. It gives me a chance to learn about people before I meet them, their interests them and how to present any messages I might have.

There are five different tools I generally use when I want to find out about somebody.

First and foremost there is Google. If ever I am going to meet someone, I always type their name into Google. Sometimes there are a lot of hits and you need to narrow the search.

Google also brings up older web pages, which let you see a person’s work history. I don’t think I have ever met anyone who was not at least mentioned on Google.

A Google search for someone’s bio or resume can also turn up some very interesting information, giving you and idea of their hobbies, interests or values. If someone keeps a blog, that’s like hitting the jackpot into understanding who they are.

If the person has public profile, there is nothing better than Wikipedia, the free online encyclopaedia. Sure it may have some inaccuracies or biases, but the inaccuracies normally occur around opinions on activities, rather than on the base facts. Wikipedia will tell you when John Howard’s birthday is (July 26) and lots of other bits of information that could come in useful in a meeting. Wikipedia also has plenty of links and references.

If the person works in IT, HR or marketing, it’s a good bet that they will have a profile on Linked In, a commercial networking site that shows your profile, and who is in your network, their profile, and who is in their network, etc. Because the Linked In profile is written by the subject, it gives you a good idea of how they see themselves and who they know (maybe you know someone in common).

Don’t forget Google Images. It’s great for finding out what a person looks like so that when you first meet, you don’t try to shake hands with the wrong person.

Finally, Google has another tool that I love called Google Alerts. Google Alerts is a kind of permanent search that you can setup or a news monitoring system.

You could set up an alert for Brendan Lewis (or someone else), and every time my name appears in a web page or news article, Google will automatically send you an email advising you of the new page that has appeared.

This system does require some tweaking, though, as initially you may get may too many responses. In fact, if you were monitoring me you would probably set up the alert as “Brendan Lewis” so that you only got notified about Australian news and websites. You can have up to 1000 Google Alerts on your account.

I have Google Alerts set up on all of the members of my advisory board, anyone I am in regular communication with and companies that sponsor Churchill Club events. So far the system is working for me as I always appear to be up on what people are doing.

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