Rapportive is one of my favorite tools to use for business development, but can be used for any role where you need to reach out to external contacts. Technically, Rapportive is a tool to manage and connect with your email contacts. It’s a free extension you can add on top of Gmail, which will show you the social networks that a contact is connected to. I happen to use Rapportive in reverse - to find out the email addresses of the people who I want to contact, but can’t through my normal routes like introductions.
I think of every format a potential contact’s email address might be, such as:
I try out each of those email addresses by typing them into the To: field in Gmail and wait for Rapportive to load the information it has on that email address.
When a real profile (with either a profile photo, twitter account, facebook account or linkedin account attached to it) shows up, you know you’ve got the right one. Use that email address to contact your person of interest.
It’s very straightforward and I know a few folks who use Rapportive in the same way. While this does get you in the door, there is no guarantee that someone will respond to you. I’ll leave that up to another blog post…