RealTime IT News

PeopleMaps Finds New and 'Hidden' Connections

Hoping to make a connection with the hiring director at a company or trying to break through to the purchasing manager to pitch a product? A personal connection always helps in these matters and a new service unveiled this week by 7 Degrees aims to facilitate just that.

PeopleMaps is available in both free and professional editions. The service lets users automatically search their personal contacts from Outlook, LinkedIn, Facebook, Gmail and Yahoo, while simultaneously searching a massive social graph 7 Degrees has collected from a variety of Internet and premium data sources. The PeopleMaps "graph engine" then instantly analyzes all of this data to uncover "connection paths" to any person or company.

"Think of it as a path finding service that shows how you are connected to any person and any company," Timothy Sheehan, CEO and co-founder of 7 Degrees, told InternetNews.com. He said those with the biggest need for PeopleMaps are people who have a critical need to leverage their relationships to do their jobs, such as salespeople.

With that in mind, 7 Degrees tailored the initial premium service to salespeople, but plans versions optimized for other vertical markets such as recruiters and financial advisors. But the free version has potential appeal for job seekers and others as well. You might even use it on a personal level to follow up on someone you met a party to see if you have friends or associates in common.

The free version offers limited access to the core navigation features that provide visual maps of a person's social network or a company's key executives, including their professional bios. You can also import and manage all of your personal contacts and social network connections all in one place.

The PeopleMaps Professional Edition is optimized for sales professionals and integrates into Salesforce.com to immediately uncover connections and, ideally, shorten the sales process by surfacing personal connections and information. It's available at the 7 Degrees site and Salesforce AppExchange.

Another feature, Automated Prospect Ranking, instantly analyzes and ranks sales prospects based on the strength of personal and professional connections. It also includes access to a "Safe Contacts Sharing" feature, which creates a map of each employee's personal and professional relationships to tap into the collective network of an entire organization.

The release comes at a time of booming interest in social networks, including professional services like LinkedIn. But Sheehan said there are big differences between what LinkedIn offers and PeopleMaps beyond just the visual view of relationships.

"Our competitive advantage is that we have a massive business social graph," said Sheehan. "We'll link your private data and marry it to this huge set of public social data including job history, family relationships, group affiliations, boards and more. There are tons of ways people may know each other or are related that they don't know about."

7 Degrees started operations two years ago and soon after acquired the assets of Cogito, which was key to the creation of PeopleMaps. "It was known for the most powerful graphical database on the market that represented about seven years of development and $12 million in investment," said Sheehan. "They tried to sell what they had as enterprise software but it didn't pan out."

One early PeopleMaps user, Bob Swedroe, president and CEO of Expandable Software, said it's proven to be a useful service.

"PeopleMaps has enabled us to quickly warm-up prospects and move through the sales cycle in a faster, unique way," Swedroe said in a statement. "The tool lets us quickly see connections to prospects in a visual way, not only optimizing our time, but going above and beyond what other services can provide in terms of exposing warm leads."