How to spot bad clients from their social profiles

Sandra Busch
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Being a small business can be tough; there are huge responsibilities and long days with demanding clients that makes you want to pull your hair out. But just as clients drive you crazy, you love them just the same – because without clients, you will not have any revenue, and without revenue, you will not have any business. It’s as simple as that.

That said, some clients just aren’t worth the effort, even if they could potentially bring you a good chunk of business. Fortunately for you, these difficult clients (willingly or not) drop hints. And that goes for your specific contact just as much as the company they represent. Here are red flags to look for on client’s – and the company’s – social profiles before you get involved.

They’re not even on social media

I’m sure that not finding your client or their business on social media will, for many people, be an obvious red flag hardly worth pointing out (if so, please proceed to the next red flag.) Social media is here to stay and to renounce Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social channels – in this day and age – is roughly the equivalent of claiming the Web was just a fad two decades ago; backward-looking and narrow-minded. At best, it’s just weird. Social media skeptics often claim not to “believe” in it. But we’re not talking Santa Claus or fake news here. SoMe is a multi-billion dollar industry. Love it or hate it, but you had better believe in it.

They badmouth their previous collaborators

If a client – or a company for that matter – publicly expresses discontent with their last business partner it’s a red flag. We all know that there are unprofessional people out there, but if a potential client insults his previous collaborators publicly, chances are he’ll do the same to you. He might just be the type of person that needs to vent about his experiences and uses social media as a makeshift diary. But what happens when he becomes disgruntled with you and starts tweeting away about your “inadequacy”?

They’re poorly rated

This is especially relevant when going through the company’s SoMe profiles. Some organizations enable ratings on Facebook, which can be helpful. On the other hand, if companies do allow ratings, you can be pretty sure they’re all good reviews because otherwise, they’d probably block ratings altogether. But ratings don’t have to come with stars in a row. Go through postings on their wall, the commentaries on pictures and posts, and use the search field to search for groups or pages mentioning your client’s business. That way, you’ll get the true picture of how your potential client treats customers, collaborators and business partners.

Did you know that Ocean.io helps business professionals access people’s social media profiles directly from their Gmail inbox? You can now go from email correspondence to social media look-up in just one click. Add to your browser.

They don’t keep in touch

A client who doesn’t want to connect with you (on LinkedIn, for example) is another red flag. I get why people don’t accept invitations to link with just anyone. There has to be some connection; a meetup, a common industry, a mutual contact or friend– but that said, a proposed professional relationship between your business and theirs certainly meet those criteria. Connecting with a potential business partner on LinkedIn should be second nature, and if it’s not, there’s something fishy going on. Client’s who don’t keep in touch tend to disappear when it comes to paying the bills and the fewer ways you have of contacting him, the more successful he’ll be. Consider yourself warned.

They fired their last collaborator

Finding evidence that your potential client fired their collaborator on social media should always make you pause and think. It’s difficult to know what really happened because you’ll likely just hear a very one-sided version if you ask your client about it –that this person or company was utterly useless. That might be true. And your business might just be capable of swooping in and saving the day. But it might also indicate that you’re dealing with a demanding client who is impossible to please. You shouldn’t walk away from the job at this point, but I would give the previous business partner a call to find out what went wrong in that relationship. Just to make sure you aren’t next.

 

One, two, three, four pieces of advice

  1. Activate your own accounts
    Being active on social media yourself will allow you to browse the full, jam-packed versions of social media profiles out there.
  2. Think twice before you engage in social shaming
    Keep it clean if you mention previous clients online. Karma is a b****, and it might come back tenfold if other people refuse to sign with you over your childish slandering.
  3. Get ahead with apps and extensions
    Use apps and extensions (such as Ocean.io) to get easy access to telling information about the people and corporations you get emails from.
  4. Trust your gut
    If everything checks out on SoMe and you still have a bad feeling, the best advice is to trust your gut. It can signal what you already know but don’t want to recognize.

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With Ocean.io, we help you understand who you’re talking to, so you can focus on what to say. Ocean.io delivers enriched contact cards to increase your productivity and mail efficiency. It gives you peace of mind by automating the due diligence process of contacts and companies from inside your Gmail inbox. For more information, visit our website.

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