Determining Who is Real

Determining Who is Real

In the virtual world, we constantly encounter individuals about whom we have to make judgments; we have to decide whether we want to connect with them, do business with them, have social online connections with them, refer them, recommend them, or have some other type of ongoing relationship with them. Making those determinations without a face-to-face meeting is risky, but reasonable. As we know, even face-to-face interactions do not always ensure that we have a solid and trustworthy relationship.

One of the major social networks has begun to attempt to assist group owners to make strategic, informed decisions regarding accepting members into groups. In this particular case, the network identifies individuals who have one or less connection and who are applying for membership to a group. It remains the responsibility of the group owner to determine whether to allow that individual into a group. Limited connections alone do not indicate that the individual in question isn’t trustworthy.

The determination as to whether someone is factual or honest about his or her identity, location, work, accomplishments, interests, etc., is one that remains subjective. If there was an easy answer, individuals would not be hired and then fired for misrepresenting their information on a resume, etc., deals would not go bad, and the behavior of some individuals would not be characterized as deceptive or false.

The longer you are active in social media, the more aware you will become of how easy it is to misunderstand the emailed word, or the intent of someone; you’ll also realize how many individuals are ‘bad news’ for generating viruses or other conman activities. One thing you should never take for granted is your instinct. 

What are some quick indicators of ‘unreal’ people, or people who may cause you issues down the road?

  • They may not use their real name in business environments. For example, they may register on a business web site as Mr. K, or Estate Girl, or the name of the company for whom they work. They may use a name like “Been There” or “Search Search.”
  • They may not follow the rules of the social media web site. The site may specifically state that email addresses should not be included in the name, and these individuals include them or other characters or symbols – such as &$#+! – to try to make themselves stand out. If they refuse to follow simple rules, or if they act as though the rules do not apply to them, are they trustworthy?
  • They may have web links that do not work, limited or no work history, incomplete profiles, no web site for their place of work, placeholder web sites with little or no information, no connections, etc.
  • They create confusion associated with their web presence. For example, they may have multiple profiles on the same social media site instead of a full profile about them –one profile for each thing in which they are involved with different email addresses.
  • They may share the same email address with another person — perhaps even register as one person with two names. Sometimes, husbands and wives in business think this is the way to go–that it is a cute and loving thing to do. However, it makes it difficult for the person on the other end to communicate because of the dual issue. Again, this is another example of complication and complexity.
  • They are kicked off the same social media site more than once, and bounce in and out of sites.
  • They assume different names using the same photo. For example, they could be registered as Rick XYZ, Rick XYZE, Rick XYZEK, using the same email and the same photo.
  • Their names or emails may be suspicious. For example, they could call themselves “Exon Veldoz” or  “”
  • They may have limited profile history and/or few connections.
  • They claim to do the impossible in their profile.
  • They do not keep their information reasonably up-to-date

Most of these indicators are just that – indicators. You can use these to tweak your decision matrix, and trust your instinct. It is far easier to be circumspect in the beginning than to clean up an electronic association.

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4 Responses to “Determining Who is Real”

  1. David Kessel Says: July 28th, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    Couldn’t say it better.

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