We have all done it. Whether it is an interesting person you just met, a neighbor you are not sure you trust, or your sister’s boyfriend that you want more information about, we look for people online. Sometimes it only takes a quick social media search to reveal their non-private profile, and it gives us all the information we need. Most of the time, it is not quite that simple.
If you want to learn how to search for someone online effectively, there are some tips and tricks that can make the search less labor-intensive and more likely to reveal the information you are seeking. Before you start your search, identify your reason for searching for this person and what information you hope to find. These two issues will help guide the rest of your search. To search for people online:
- If you need detailed information about a person, you may want to consider an online background check on the person you are seeking. Make sure you use a reputable website and read the fine print to understand exactly what you are getting with your purchase. Many sites offer a free service where they will provide you with limited information and attempt to lure you into buying the full search. Using the free portion of the search is not a bad idea as it may help you build your profile of information, such as giving you names of potential relatives of the person.
- Use Google and type in their name, along with the state where they live. Use quotation marks to reduce the number of results. Don’t forget to check the images and videos tabs to see if any pictures or videos might lead you to more information.
- Try different keyword strings. For example, type in “Joe, San Bernadino, musician” and start digging through the results. The more information you have, the better your odds of finding the person you are looking for.
- Do not underestimate the power of social media. Log into your social media accounts and search for the person. Some people keep their accounts privacy settings locked down, but others might leave a good deal of information available for anyone to see. Facebook has the most robust search features, so put Facebook’s people search to work by filling in as much information as you have. If the person does not have a social media presence, then you can search for the potential relatives you found on the free background check sites.
- Even if the social media profile is set to private, you should be able to see their profile picture. Screenshot the photo and do a reverse image search to see where it leads.
- If you have their email address, type the email address into Google. Review the first two pages of results to see if you find any further information. When you put an email address in, you may also see a tab that says maps under the search bar. Click that tab, and you might find that it reveals the person’s home address or their current location.
- If you have their phone number or even an old phone number, type that into Google as well. The search engine will pull up any accounts associated with the phone number and offer a reverse number search that might provide you with a name and address.
- If you know where they work, try typing in their name along with the name of the company. If you do not know the person’s name, then a place of work might be your best chance of discovering their name in association with a company.
Remember that each search may only give you a small new piece of data. It will be up to you to connect these data points into meaningful information in your search. You may have used Google to find their last name, then social media, to discover where they work. Once you have that much information compiled, you can continue to expand your search.
LinkedIn is a great place to search for a profile because virtually all profiles on LinkedIn are public. Once you have the person’s name and where they work, you should be able to find their LinkedIn profile, which will provide a treasure trove of information. Remember, though that LinkedIn will show the person you are looking for who has viewed their profile.