The internet helps me find a lot of things I'm looking for, like a nearby restaurant or where to renew my driver's license. But special relationships…they're harder to find online.
No, I'm not talking about internet dating: you have a plethora of choices when it comes to that. I'm talking about professionals that we need or want in our lives, such as a great music coach for my kid. I want to find a teacher who has good relationships with their students but is also an effective teacher. How do I use the internet to find someone who fits this description?
Currently, my options are Google searching, Google Places (for music schools), or Yelp. Google doesn't even display everything that's currently available because of personal algorithms. Since I don't usually search for music schools, I'm not sure what Google will 'think' I want. Google Places might work if I look up music schools. Yelp lists music schools, as well, along with some individual teachers who seem business savvy enough to create their own websites and list themselves in an engaging way. But I know that not all great musicians are skilled when it comes to internet advertising, so perhaps this is not an effective litmus test. And how do I know what kind of person they will be? I wish there was a professional relationship version of eHarmony.
There is a list for purchase called Angie's List, which provides consumer reviews on 'quality contractors, service companies and doctors'. But Angie's List is so expensive that few people decide it's worth the cost.
As much as the internet is trying to replace word of mouth, it just hasn't happened yet. It's too bad that psychology tests aren't included when determining if a professional is right for you. Word of mouth is still the most reliable way to find out what a professional's personality is like. If only the internet mimicked the real world on a deeper level. Before that happens, a focus on professional organizations and unions should prove helpful. If the professional you are looking for is involved in a professional organization, it's more likely they take their job seriously and are continuously learning. Or try your local university. Maybe a great music coach for my situation is a graduate student at the University of Texas.