Email, social media, job boards, freelancing platforms. The amount of online spaces in which we share personal and professional information grows by the day. Our online presence has become a lot more important than any business card, and most companies will consider someone’s online presence before making a hiring decision. But, what happens when you want to find people online and you don’t get much information? Here are some free resources to begin with:
Google and Other Search Engines
The first and easiest resource to find someone online is to use Google. Because of how information is stored and displayed, you may not find someone with a simple name search. Combinations of information tend to do the trick: name and address, name of their place of employment, whatever information you have will help. Just remember that there is no magic shortcut. Sometimes your information will appear after pages and pages of results, especially if who you are trying to find has a very common name. Advanced options such as image searches are also recommended. While Google is the search engine giant, try using other search engines if you don’t have any luck with it. Sometimes, search engine algorithms use different crawling techniques and you might find what you want on a different site.
Most people today have at least one social media profile. In most cases, a Google search will link to social media profiles. But, there are cases in which privacy settings will block this option. So searching directly in each site is the way to go. Some social media platforms will not allow you to search for users unless you sign up, but in most cases, signing up is easy. A good way to start if their name does not appear is to look for other people that are related in any way. This is especially helpful in cases in which a person has changed their name.
If you have a full name, chances are, you can find a telephone linked to that name. Phone directories such as WhitePages will give you valuable information, and you can also run a reverse search if all you have is a phone number.
If you know where the person works, it may be easy to find more information using LinkedIn, which is also a social media platform; but one in which people tend to share more information related to their field of work or professional activity. Another option is consulting business associations, as some of them have online directories of their associates and suppliers. Even the common Yellow pages can offer more information or help you narrow down your search.
Be Careful if You Choose to Pay
Remember that there are a lot of scam sites that will offer to find whatever you want in exchange for money or your personal information. If you happen to stumble with one of them, don’t fall for it. While there are safe paid alternatives when the free ones fail, you have to be careful in selecting sites that are upfront in the type of information they collect and the techniques they use. Depending on your state laws, you might even be breaking the law by hiring them. No serious search site will ask more personal information about you than what’s strictly necessary for your search purposes, so beware of what you share as it can be used as a means for extortion.
The internet is a great resource if you need to find a person or even if you need more information about them. You just need to develop research skills that will get you closer to the best results.