How to Spy on Someone Over the Internet
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Advisors are lacking when it comes to using the internet to spy on people. Start conducting reconnaissance, and then use these three techniques.
Spying is fun and necessary
I’m a busy person, but every once in a while I find it highly fulfilling to spy on my ex-boyfriends and other despicable people from my past. I then proceed to give them the evil eye through my computer.
Heh heh heh (sinister laughing sound).
Revenge aside, spying is a useful business tool. There is a vast discrepancy between who people say they are and who they really are.
Whenever you meet someone in your business travels who you want to make part of your circle, the first thing you should is spy on them. Allocate 5-10 minutes a week for this. Maybe on a Sunday night before you have your meetings that week.
Make a list of:
- Children of clients
- Candidates for jobs at your company
I’m about to get into the specific methods you can use, but first let me encourage you to not interpret this as a recommendation to use actual spy software, intrusive apps, or to hack anyone. Don’t cross any boundaries; only view what is public and meant for public consumption, and don’t invade anyone’s privacy.
Public information is more than enough! You’d be surprised what people voluntarily publish on the internet.
Here are some useful spy tactics I’ve learned along the way.
I post to LinkedIn daily. I’m constantly amazed at how frequently I get into meetings with people who have requested to meet with me, yet have no idea about anything regarding me, my life, or my business.
If you are meeting with a prospect, you need to be prepared.
Check out their profile page. It will tell you their basic professional affiliations, how to contact them, and their work and educational history.
As an example, here’s mine.
To see who someone is talking to, who they like and dislike, and their opinions, it’s all in their activity feed. This is not the same as their posting feed.
For example, here is my LinkedIn activity feed.
An activity feed shows you all the posts someone commented on or liked, starting with the most recent one. The posts I’ve engaged with don’t necessarily have to be my own. If I comment or like someone else’s posting, it shows up on my activity feed. It even shows when I respond back to a comment that somebody else has made, even if that post isn’t my own. In other words, the activity feed is inclusive of all activity I do, not just what I post to my own page.
Check out this discussion below.
You can see I started a lively debate about the value of college. Now, let’s say you were a financial advisor, and you had an appointment with me to talk about my money. What did you learn about my opinion about the cost of college? Now you know what not to include on agenda.
It’s useful to spy on someone’s activity feed because some people don’t regularly post to LinkedIn, but they will engage in discussions that other people start.
Before you go poking around on LinkedIn, make sure you adjust your privacy settings to make it so they can’t tell you are looking at them. Also, within your LinkedIn privacy settings, you can make it so that your connections can’t see who else you are connected to. This is necessary if you have a connection who is trying to poach your clients.
If you’re into Facebook, Instagram, etc., you can use these tactics there as well.
I was recently talking to a client who was frustrated by his failed attempt to find information about a prospect, let’s call him Chris, who wasn’t posting anything revealing to his LinkedIn. I suggested typing Chris’s full name into Google search, and up popped a lengthy article in which Chris passionately described their entire career path including several highly personal disclosures.
This provided a much more solid ground for starting up a conversation with Chris over social media.
Before you meet with anyone, spy on them by simply entering their name into Google search. Even better, check out the “news” and “images” tabs on Google and find out what other people are saying about the person, and what they look like.
Then, type in the person’s name with the words, “lawsuit,” “address,” “arrest,” and “court records.” I’m constantly surprised at the dirt I dig up when I conduct such searches.
- People-search websites
There are many free “people-search” websites you can access to find out basic info such as their age, current and past places of residence, and who their brother, sisters, and other relatives are. And then if you want to creep around, you can check out their social media pages, too!
Examples of such websites are:
On Nuwber, you can even find out who their neighbors are.
People-search websites help you understand their history and the social circles that somebody may travel in. This will give you a better picture of them and allow you to ask better questions during the meeting.
Protecting yourself is not to be taken lightly
Doing research before a meeting can improve the quality of the interaction between you and a prospect. But there is another very important advantage.
To have an initial meeting with someone is one thing. But if it goes any further than that to where you are seriously considering entering into a formal business arrangement with someone, you should know what you are getting into. Unfortunately, many people don’t tell you the real story voluntarily. The resources in this article are free, but if necessary, get a paid background check done.
By the way, have you entered your own name into Google recently? You never know what people are saying about you on the internet!
Lastly, make sure you are blocking specific people (such as ruthless competitors) who you don’t want seeing your profile and updates. Most of the major social media platforms allow you this option.
Sara Grillo, CFA, is a marketing consultant who helps investment management, financial planning, and RIA firms fight the tendency to scatter meaningless clichés on their prospects and bore them as a result. Prior to launching her own firm, she was a financial advisor.