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How to Use Social Media to Vet Your Potential Business Partners

 

While on vacation, it is surprisingly common to run into potential business partners. You may meet them while enjoying the sun on that exquisite beach, or while chatting away at extravagant dining tables on a cruise ship.

 

After you retire to your cabin or hotel room, your thoughts will be filled with how you can be sure that you are not about to get into a relationship you will end up regretting.

 

Picking someone to get into business with can be a very difficult choice. It is a huge commitment and you potentially have a lot riding on this one decision. So how can you know if someone you meet on your travels is a good fit for your business vision?

 

More and more companies are turning to social media when it comes to hiring new employees. In a similar fashion, many people have started to use social media as a way to vet and investigate a potential business partner or company.

 

You would be surprised at how much information can be gathered online.

 

  • Credit Checks – this is important because business partnerships usually come with a pretty big financial commitment. You need to know that the partner or company you are considering is financially responsible and will bring bad credit history and massive debt to your doors.

When vetting a company we recommend utilising a professional data service that has access to both global and local company information, provide different levels of credit checks and generally help you understand potential partner businesses and the associated risks much better.

 

  • What kind of life do they live? If it seems like your potential partner is living beyond their means that’s a red flag, and may be something to keep in mind. You should already have a whiff of this from the way they talk, and things they have on them. Have a look at their dressing when hanging out on the cruise balcony for instance. What hotel are they lodged in? Does it match their finances? What wristwatch do they have on? Is he or she totting a DSLR that is on the extreme side? Whatever you find out, the social media can help you ascertain thing even further. People living above their means will make ridiculous show off posts on the social media
  •  Expanding on the above – is there evidence of loaning? This is not to say that taking a loan is inherently a bad thing, indeed many start ups only get off the ground thanks to organizations like Everline, however evidence of relying on personal loans for example or taking out additional business loans simply to keep the business afloat should be ringing alarm bells in your ears.

 

  • Social Media Reputation– do some digging into various social media accounts (if available) it’s shocking how careless people can be on sites such as Facebook or Twitter. Doing a little bit of research on these types of accounts should give you a very good understanding of what kind of person you are truly dealing with. Do they go to wild parties every weekend? Do they travel to exotic locations every other couple of months? Or are do they spend their evenings playing monopoly with their kids and having supper with their in-laws? Of course appearances can be deceiving so you should take everything with a grain of salt. However, it’s a good start when trying to deconstruct a person.

 

  • Find out what others are saying about the potential partner or company. Someone may seem like the perfect candidate on the surface but as you start peeling off the layers, a whole other image can emerge. It is therefore important to speak to old employees, old bosses and colleagues who will be able to provide you with a clearer picture of this person. Go on their LinkedIn profiles and see what people have to say. If your potential partner is claiming to have a lot of money or a lot of important connections, don’t just take his or her word on it. Follow up with these claims to ensure that they are in fact true.

 

  • Do they have legal issues? This is very crucial. The last thing you want to be involved with is ongoing legal problems or deal with sticky legal issues from the past that may come to cause you unnecessary problems. These problems can be anything from being sued by a disgruntled employee, problems with the taxman or even criminal issues.

 

  • Finally, trust your gut. This is not something you can check online or through social media, but it is important to listen to your instincts. If something seems off, it probably is.

 

Once you have carefully screened your potential partner and they passed each checkpoint with flying colors, you might feel very confident about taking the next step. Make sure that when you do take that step that everything is put in writing and everything is created and formalized legally. Don’t get involved with anyone until there are written and signed papers to document everything.

 

While it is hoped that all partnerships will be long lasting and fruitful, that is not always the case. Bear in mind that you can never know someone you met while on holiday in Cyprus or Greece well enough. So for both your protection and for the well-being of your company, make sure to do things the proper way because when it comes to business and relationships, you can never be too careful.

The other person should not feel offended or upset at your thoroughness, if they are a true professional, they will understand your reasoning and the importance of doing things by the book. If they don’t, then that should be red flag for you and should make you think twice about whom you are about getting into business with.