Vendor Helps SMBs Build Contact Databases - InformationWeek

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Vendor Helps SMBs Build Contact Databases

Companies can use cloud-based software from NetProspex to trade names, numbers, email addresses, and social media information.

It's not what you know; it's who you know, right? Well, that may be a bit of an exaggeration. I mean, knowledge is important in the grand scheme of things. But it's definitely true that knowing the right people can be very helpful. And having a way with others can certainly be a boon to business.

How do you make connections with the right people, be they prospects, partners, suppliers, sources of information--whatever? If you're not as successful in this area as you'd like to be, you might want to take a look at NetProspex, a cloud-based software application that's dedicated solely to making your little black book thicker.

"When you're prospecting for new business, the key is who you need to target and how you're going to reach them," says Michael Bird, chief revenue officer at NetProspex. "The problem often is amassing a large quantity of contact info." Bird says three to five million records are traded every month through the software and the company's database has grown 100% year over year since NetProspex's inception five years ago.

NetProspex acquires contact info via crowdsourcing. That is, all of the info in the NetProspex contact database comes from NetProspex users, who engage in a sort of barter system.

Here's how it works. Say I'm a real estate agent in New York City with 300 contacts to share. I'm moving to Boston and would like to build up my new clientele as quickly as possible. I upload my 300 records to NetProspex, and a bunch of algorithms are performed on the data. The software makes sure the records are complete and holds on to those that aren't duplicates of what's in the existing database. If 100 of those contacts are "new"--i.e., they're not already available in NetProspex--I've just bought myself 100 records. Now I can sift through the NetProspex database and select 100 contacts I want in return. Perhaps I'll hit the mother lode in finding a slew of top-notch real estate contacts in the Boston area.

The idea of buying compiled contact lists isn't new, so what makes NetProspex different? Two things, according to Bird. First, all contact info is verified by overseas staffers who call each number to make sure it belongs to the person whose name is attached to it. Second, "we're the first to bake social media--Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter info--into each record in our database," Bird says. "This is a huge time-saver. It's one thing if you have to sift through 20 Scott Gordons in LinkedIn to find the one you're looking for. This might take you an extra 40 seconds or so. But if you have to do that with multiple prospects? This is a huge time-waster and drain of your resources."

When searching for contact info at NetProspex, you can get granular. You can drill down by industry, job function, company size, and location. For example, you might want to find network administrators at New York-based accounting firms with less than $500 in annual revenue. No problem. You can do that with NetProspex.

Bird says the company's customers range from big names like Microsoft and Deloitte & Touche to small and midsize businesses, which account for about 50% of NetProspex's users.

Think about it: How valuable is it to gather as many contacts in your field as you can? A solution like this one could be just what you need to make the right connections.

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