One of my favorite things about the web is the ability to do research online. Whether you're blogging, writing, or networking, you'll probably find yourself needing to do some research for your various projects. This week, we're going to talk about how to do that research more effectively. Today, let's talk about how to research people online.
In some cases, you'll want to find out more about someone you have just met, or someone you are preparing to writing about. Perhaps you're wanting to hire someone, or research a candidate you're considering voting for in the upcoming elections (or a member of the opposition party - this is called "oppo" research). Here are some things you can do.
I always start with a basic search on Google.com and 123People.com, under the person's name, and any known aliases or pseudonyms. This will give you a basic idea of what information is out there, and where to take your search.
Anywho.com, and WhitePages.com will help you find anyone who has a landline. YellowPages.com will help you find most businesses.
Searching for people on LinkedIN.com, Facebook.com, and MySpace.com can give you an idea of who is in a person's network of friends and associates. Also available sometimes are photos, events and groups the person is involved in, and education and employment information, as well as hobbies and interests.
Intelius.com and Ancestry.com are paid services that can give you a great deal of background information about a person, including cell phone records, criminal records, marriage info, current and past addresses, and more.
Note: Keep in mind that while you are researching people, it is possible that they also may be researching you. It's a good idea to perform these searches on yourself, to find out what they are likely to find.
Jennifer Pointer (e-mail) is a trainer and tech writer in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking. Her weakness is the mocha frappuccino.