By Harry Urschel
People often tell me they were on LinkedIn, or went to a networking group, or met someone when they were out-and-about and got a name of a potential contact for their job search, but don’t know how to reach them.
“What good is the name without their phone number or email address? It doesn’t do me much good if I can’t connect with them!”
It’s great if you are given a phone number and/or email address with a name, however, with a little creativity and initiative you can certainly find other ways to get in touch. Here are some ideas and techniques to make those connections:
~ Call the main number! Often people forget the simplest and most obvious solution to getting in touch with a new contact… call the company and ask for them! It’s ideal to have a direct-line phone number to the person you’re trying to reach. However, if you don’t, it’s generally pretty easy to find the main company phone number (either from their website online, a phone book, or calling 411), call and ask for the person by name. Generally a phone receptionist won’t put you through to anyone if you ask a general question like “May I speak to the Accounting Manager, please?” However, if you ask for someone by name, they will always put you through. Even if the person works at another company facility than the one you are calling, they generally have the overall company directory and can put you directly through to that person. Call and ask for them by name.
Additionally, if you call after business hours, many companies have an automated answering system with a company directory that will often tell you the extension of the person you are trying to connect to. That’s often a great way to gain the direct-line number of someone.
~ Google! As with so many things… Google is a tremendous resource to find contact information. More than half of the time I'm trying to find contact information, I’m able to do it by searching their name and company name through Google. If, for example, I’m trying to find John Mansky at XYZ Company… I simply search: "John Mansky” “XYZ Company”
I make sure to put his name in quotes to avoid unwanted results like John Smith and Bill Mansky.
Scanning down the list of results, I often find some document or site that has their phone number and/or email address. If there are too many results, I may try to narrow the search by trying his name with their web domain. For example: “John Mansky” “xyzco.com”
Their email address is likely to include their web domain, so if the address is “email@example.com” the search is likely to find it.
If that doesn’t work, I may do a search to find ANY email address at that company to discover what their standard email format is. For example, I may simply search:
If someone else’s email address pops up that is in a format of 'firstname.lastname@example.org’, for example, I know it’s a very high likelihood that my contact’s address is in the same format. If it’s wrong, their email server will simply bounce the email back to me and no one is the wiser. If it does bounce back, I simply try other common formats like:
…or other combinations.
~ Check emails4corporations! Another great resource to help you find the standard email format for the company where your contact is employed is emails4corporations. Someone has compiled a tremendous list of standard email formats for companies all over the country.
You can find them at: http://sites.google.com/site/emails4corporations
Enter the company name in the search box at the top right corner of the homepage and it will show you the company, email format, address, and phone number. It doesn’t cover every company, however, is a great help if yours is included.
~ Try JigSaw.com! JigSaw.com is probably the worlds largest ‘Rolodex’. It includes the business card information of millions of people. It rarely lets me down and is the last resort resource for me when trying to find someone’s contact information. You can either use it by paying for the service, or for free on a give & take point system. So it take a little money or some effort on your part. However, for me as a recruiter, or you as a job seeker, I believe it’s a very worthwhile resource when you need contact information you can’t seem to find anywhere else.
~ Paid Services. Certainly there are a number of additional paid services (Spoke, ZoomInfo, and others) available online that can provide the information for you as well, however, I’m generally a big fan of “FREE”. It’s pretty rare that I can’t find someone’s contact information through one of the means listed above. Try those and then depending on how badly you need it, a paid service may be worth it.
Generally, I don’t recommend contacting someone directly through LinkedIn’s system. Many people receive a lot of communications through there and have become conditioned to treat them like Spam. It’s generally best to reach them by phone, a professional voicemail, or email first. However, if none of those works, as a last resort, you have nothing to lose by trying the LinkedIn contact system as well.
As always, make sure your communication is professional, well prepared, and succinct!
You can gain more help with that by reading Keys to a great email in your job search! or What to do in an effective networking call!
Be creative, take the initiative, and find the way to connect with those job search contacts!