On February 25 at 12h00 Noon Eastern I will be reprieving an updated version of the very successful webinar I delivered for the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals on using the Internet to research private companies. Interested parties can register for the event at the SCIP web site. I’m particularly excited about some of the updates that I’m going to be able to detail new methods and tools to research private companies using social networks.
I really enjoy delivering training such as this and sharing some of the secrets that I use for researching private companies of all sizes. Conducting research on small, private companies is much more challenging than researching large, public companies. The obvious distinction is the availability of SEC and other securities filings for public companies that contain a wealth of information about operations and performance. Using secondary sources to research private companies requires a lot of creativity.
The principal message that I try to convey in each of my webinars or presentations about Internet research is to have a plan. Being smart about how you are going to spend your time, what sources you are going to use and what you can realistically expect to find on the Internet is critical to success. Sometimes stakeholders need to be reminded that not everything is available on The Google. My first rule of thumb for Internet research is that if there is no reason for a person to put a piece of information on-line it won’t be on-line. People and companies make information available for self-serving reasons such as promotion, recruiting or because they need to comply with legal requirements.
Finally, secondary research and OSINT do not stand alone. Primary collection and HUMINT are critical for gaining real insight about private companies, and that really cannot be avoided. Secondary sources can provide some great guidance on the best primary resources you should be interviewing, what questions you should be asking them and how you should evaluate the information they provide to you. No amount of primary or secondary collection should stand alone without analysis: what does the information mean to us, what might come of all this and what should we do about it?
I hope readers of this blog will be able to join us for this webinar. I’m going to try to find an opportunity to present the webinar live to a group of local attendees to offer some face-to-face interaction. Watch this space for updates.