How to find business contacts using Google
The Web is not just for digging up old high school friends. Business managers find it invaluable for checking out the bios or newspaper reports on their competitors, finding new clients or performing due diligence on new recruits.
Not long ago I needed to locate a former employee who moved to California but had absolutely no forwarding address or e-mail contact. I made a bet with one of my managers that I could find him within 30 minutes. Sure enough, within 15 minutes or so I had his e-mail address and shortly thereafter his phone number.
That said, locating people online isn't always foolproof -- especially if the person really doesn't want to be found. But here are some techniques that can help:
» Google Phone Directory: Google has probably the world's most complete phone directory. You can use to find a phone number or address in the United States. All you do is type in "phonebook:" and add any of these combinations in the box:
First name (or first initial), last name and zip code;
First name (or first initial), last name and city (state is optional);
First name (or first initial), last name and area code;
First name (or first initial), last name and state;
Phone number, including area code;
Last name, city and state
Last name and zip code
(If you're one of the people I mentioned above who is not anxious to be found, go to Google Phonebook Name Removal (www.google.com/help/pbremoval.html) and have your name eviscerated.
» Google a name in quotations: Often you can zero in on someone just by entering their name in quotation marks.
For example "Adam Smith" will get you hundreds of thousands of pages on the famous economist, but if you're really looking for Sir George Adam Smith, the Scottish preacher and Semitic scholar, you can type "Adam Smith" and "old testament" and you will find him.
If the person you're seeking has an unusual name, i.e., "Jet Jackson," you don't need to do too much more than put in the quotations and hit the enter key. If you know where the person works or lives or what organizations they might belong to, you also type in the name and the extra data.
"Jet Jackson" "Omaha"
"Kamuela Future Farmers of America"
» Follow someone with Google News Alert: If you're tracking someone in the news, say an executive or a competitor, setting up a Google news alert is also an excellent option. It's free and takes only a few minutes to do.
Naturally this will only work if the individual you're homing in on is covered by the trade or business press. If Google, like the Mounties, finds your man or woman in a news story, it will send an e-mail notifying you.
» Dig up info with Google Blog Search: This is a cool way to uncover info on people who may not be in the papers but are covered by bloggers. For example if I wanted to uncover the latest on a niche subject such as "Mobile Search Engine Optimization" there are any number of blogs which would cover this topic.