Mining for contact gold
One saleswoman who has been using the software for two months said it has streamlined her sales process. "Its been very effective in identifying colleague relationships, friends and neighbors," said the saleswoman, who requested anonymity. "This was happening before, of course, but this is just making it easier. It was all manual before. Now you can do it off your desktop." Her company, which offers hosted applications for financial services firms, uses Salesforce.com as a CRM system. With Visible Path, "I can just click on a name in Salesforce, and it will ask me if I want Visible Path for that person, and it will automatically search," she said. Since she started testing Visible Path two months ago, she has made about a dozen Visible Path-assisted phone calls and has seen the companys network of potential contacts grow. Based on 90 employees in the network, she said there are now 750 people within one degree of separation from her, 25,000 within two degrees and 75,000 within three degrees.Another approach to social networking is from ZeroDegrees Inc. Mark Jeffrey, vice president of the Santa Monica, Calif., startup and a member of the panel, said that he thinks business networking should begin with the individual."Relationships belong to individuals," Jeffrey said. "If a company dictates to me that I have to hand over my contacts, that doesnt make me comfortable." Next page: ZeroDegrees hooks up with Microsoft Outlook to give insider advice on adding network members.