With the global economy still moribund, tools and services that help you find leads and extract more value from your existing business contacts can only be welcome.
LinkedIn has become the online resume repository of choice and helps curate an individual’s professional network, but how to actually make use of those relationships isn’t clear. Currently, LinkedIn simply delivers an email or an RSS feed summarizing what your contacts have been doing.
Enter SocialMinder, an interesting service that’s just entered a closed alpha-testing phase. SocialMinder claims to:
- Analyze your email archive, mapping email contacts to your LinkedIn network.
- Identify those contacts searching for new business opportunities and neglected contacts that need attention.
- Provide recent business news from each identified contact to use as a discussion point.
The company is currently limiting access to LinkedIn users with Gmail accounts: completing a short questionnaire will enable you to sign up. I’m not sure how effective SocialMinder can be when it’s limited to just these services. However, the investment we give in time and attention to personal and professional networks — Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. — could provide additional business opportunities. I’m guessing that we’ll see more SocialMinder-like tools emerging to help us better understand our social networks.
Alternatively, there are of course non-software, human-centric solutions to this problem. Just recently, a bunch of freelancers in the UK formed an experimental consortium to pool their resources in order to tackle larger opportunities.
The Consorteum is a group of seven individuals with skills in software architecture, .NET development and information architecture that is offering a fixed daily rate for access to all its participating members. Clients are allocated an engagement manager who gathers requirements and musters resources from the consortium members to fulfill the requirements. I imagine we’ll see more of these types of groupings evolving from coworking communities.
Both SocialMinder and Consorteum represent novel approaches in using existing professional relationships to further opportunity. What strategies do you use to find new opportunities?