December 18, 2013

How to reach people you have no relationship with

Use Rapportive to track down someone’s email address.

5 ways to turn a cold call into a warm call (and other business tactics)

Target audience: Marketing professionals, SEO specialists, PR pros, brand managers, businesses, nonprofits, educators, Web publishers, journalists.

JD LasicaAt Startup BD (the BD is for Business Development) in San Francisco last Thursday, Matt Van Horn, VP of Business at Path, shared five tactics for how to reach people you have no relationship with.

For social marketers, consultants or anyone who needs to reach out to potential partners, influencers, clients or customers, Van Horn offered a handy cheat cheat, which I’m reordering a bit here:

Use Rapportive to guess email addresses

1Use Rapportive or other tools to learn a recipient’s email address. Rapportive is an add-on for Chrome and Firefox that lets you easily see a person’s contact information and social networks right inside your email inbox, particularly Gmail. Purchased by LinkedIn last year, Rapportive pulls info from all over the Web and puts it at your fingertips. (Hey, I see you’re tweeting about the minimum wage. I’m with you on that!)

This week I had lost my old contact information for Wired staff writer Steve Levy, so I began guessing his email address in the “To” field of Gmail (was it steve.levy? steven.levy? ah! [email protected]). I’m using Steve Levy here rather than showing the email address of someone I don’t know, but you take my point. Rapportive has tens of millions of email addresses in its database, so start guessing away and often you’ll hit on the right combination.

Van Horn also listed Slideshare and Google (but you knew that) as other good sources for obtaining contact information. Send a short, friendly intro before you hit someone with an overture that requires them to do something.

Use your social network to be social

2“Use your network to make a cold call a warm one,” Van Horn said. That means make use of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram to start engaging with people. You have to start building a modest relationship before getting down to business. “Add value before an ask,” he said.

Follow up after meetings

3After spending time with someone you met in a meeting or on the phone, send a quick two- to three-line email within 48 hours of meeting someone. Try to mention one unique thing you spoke with them about to help them remember you.

Keep and use a deep contacts list

4Use Gmail, Google Apps or a Contacts database to add a person’s name, affiliation and email address after you get, say, their business card. Set up 1 on 1 time to connect over a drink, coffee or food. Draw upon those contacts whenever the opportunity arises.

Go old school and pick up the phone

5Here’s a little trick Van Horn employs. “When I’m trying to reach someone, I call the corporate number and the person’s extension at odd hours like 7-9 am and 5-7 pm. You’d be surprised how often they’re in and they pick up.”

Bonus tip: Pick up a copy of Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi (hardcover and Kindle), which outlines a strategy for building a lifelong community of colleagues, contacts, friends and mentors.

Bonus tip #2: If you use Path on your smartphone, “It’s good place to connect with entrepreneurs,” Van Horn said. Try searching on the hashtag #pathonly and see if anything turns up among your network of 150 friends max.

Cross-posted to Socialbrite.
JD Lasica, founder of, is now co-founder of the cruise discovery engine Cruiseable. See his About page, contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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