I have a lot of meetings with a lot of different and interesting people, and I’m constantly asked by friends and family “Where did you meet this person?” So I figured that I’d lay out some of my networking tactics, figuring you guys aren’t going to go out and contact the same kind of people that I’m trying to get a hold of. One thing I will say is, that the type of people I am trying to reach out to are more likely to be involved in the web than others, but more than likely you can get a hold of someone you want using some of these methods.
Google is your best friend. I’m constantly amazed at how incredible google is at finding information on people and companies, and just how little people use it for that. I almost always will google a person’s name who contacts me or I’m trying to get a hold of. You’ be absolutely shocked to see how often people’s names show in google searches. You can often find press releases, marathon entries, club membership rosters, blogs, blog comments, and just about anything else you can imagine. It’s important to note that you should do at least two types of searches when looking for info on a person, first just their name and then their name in quotations such as “dan putt.” It’s a more targeted search that tends to bring in more useful information. Don’t forget to search the news archives for their name as well by just clicking on the “news” tab on google. That tends to bring up information as well.
Google Blogsearch is awesome too. It seems that lots of people I’m trying to get in touch with seem to have blogs. Blogs are amazing because they give you an inside glimpse into the persons thoughts over an extended period of time. They are also useful because you can almost always contact that person directly from the blog. Don’t be afraid to either, people who have blogs do so because they are trying to have an open discussion so they tend to be very welcoming to outside comments and ideas(myself included, although I’ve only had a few people contact me). I have never sent a blog writer an email that wasn’t replied to, this includes some of the biggest blogs out there (100k + daily readers). If you’re looking for a particular person, company, or info on both try google blogsearch (blogsearch.google.com), I bet you’ll at least find something.
Linkedin. People who know me, know that I dominate linkedin. It has proven invaluable to me and my networking efforts. Although it only has a narrow sliver of the population using it, it is growing its reach on a daily basis. More and more I’m able to find someone who works at just about any company on there in a wide range of positions, from CEO to sales rep.
There are a few ways you can use linkedin to get a hold of people. First in order to see as many people as possible you need to build your network. This can be done easily by searching for “linkedin” on linkedin and you’ll find tons of “network builders,” who will join up with anyone and everyone (and as a result when you join their network, your scope of available linkedin people grows enormously), connect with a few of them to expand your searching capabilities. Once you are able to grow your network a little, start searching for whatever you’re looking for (either person, company, or title it works awesome for all). Once you have found some interesting people to contact you have a few options. You can send an introduction, which is a message that goes through your contacts and their contacts, which doesn’t always make it (or make it quickly). I’ve used this, but I try to avoid it. You can also send inmessages, which are direct messages, but you must either be a monthly paying member or each message cost you $10. This makes sure that you really want to get in touch with someone so much so that you’re willing to pay for it. I’ve used this as well with a response roughly 75% of the time, and I find that a monthly membership has been more than worth it. Another method is a more action oriented. You can simply call the company that person works for and ask for them. I’ve done this as well with some limited success. The final option is guess their email address. Most companies use an email format (joe smith’s email address for example would be firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org), so if you know the email address and name of someone else who works at that company you can easily figure out their address. How do you find that? Go back to google, type in a search that says “mailto: company.com” (no quotes necessary). More often than not (especially with a big company) you will find someone from that company has posted their email address. Take a look at their name and the email address to figure out the proper format, and then take the name of the person you wish to contact, convert their name into the email address format and send out an email (example: joe smith’s company uses the format first letter of first name and last name @company.com, so joe smith’s address woul be email@example.com).
You can also, of course, do a google search on any names you’ve found on linkedin to see if you can find more information.
I’m not telling this stuff so you can spam, and lots of good people can be spammed. I’m telling this because I believe opening the doors and speeding up communication is an important step in moving forward in the connected economy. Please do not contact anyone unless you truly have a good reason to speak with them, otherwise the system will collapse and become unavailable to everyone. I also want people to understand that it really is possible, if they wish, to find out how to get a hold of just about anyone they wish. It just takes a little creativity, determination, and belief in the reason you wish to contact them, but it can be done. I definitely have a few more tricks up my sleeve, but for the time being I’ll keep those to myself….