The other day, as I was looking up a certain business online, I realized just how much the Internet can reveal. The Internet can play an integral role in building and making a person or business a success, but if not handled in the right way, can also burn an individual or operation severely.
Here are a few of the ways in which I have utilized the Internet to glean valuable information regarding certain business propositions and operations and how the information I’ve discovered has at times reflected poorly on the organization or individual upon which I was searching.
Applying for a Job
It’s not just applicants who can be burned by the Internet when it comes to employment opportunities. Just because I’m self-employed doesn’t mean I don’t still get solicitations for regular, employer-based jobs. And sometimes these offers can be quite tempting. But this is when I remember the old saying, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
Usually a quick search of the Internet by employer or business name can turn up enough information to inform me as to whether the offer is indeed legitimate, a scam or somewhere in between. And while this typically helps me, I’ve grown to learn that one persons definition of “scam” can be completely different from another’s, and I have discovered certain offers that were considered a scam in one person’s mind, while completely legitimate in mine.
Buying or Selling a Home
It truly is amazing what you can learn about someone from the Internet these days — even without cyberstalking them. When we were in the home sale process recently, we did a search of the people buying our home based simply upon their names and address listed upon the sale contract.
We didn’t do a fancy background search that cost money, just a simple search engine run of the address and their names. Doing so, we could see where they lived, the history of the property in which they lived, and what its status was (under contract, the sales price, etc.). Though we didn’t spend much time on this, it was amazing just what information could be obtained in a 5-minute search that was somewhat helpful in the negotiation process. This is why it can be so important to consider the information you are putting on the Internet and how it can affect numerous areas of your personal and business life.
Business Negotiations or New Clients
Poor customer reviews, reports to the Better Business Bureau or reviews of your business in which it might be called a ‘scam’ could hurt your operation. If people are getting on the Internet to find our more about your business, only to read all sorts of bad reviews, or even just a few, it can taint your image, scare away current business, and possibly hurt your ability to gain new customers.
No Mention at All
While bad publicity can hurt your business, no publicity at all might be even worse. Logging onto the Internet only to find that there is little or no trace of your operation could leave people wondering why or even how you or your organization haven’t managed to gain exposure on the web. This could lead to questions about your legitimacy and may hurt your ability to promote, market or even operate your business effectively.
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The author is not a licensed financial professional. The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or financial advice. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.