We just celebrated my colleague Jennifer Turner’s fourteenth anniversary with HBG (!), and one of the things Jen has become known for around here is her skill at tracking down hard-to-find information. In today’s article, Jen shares some of her tactics for finding contact information when the usual resources are less than helpful. Thanks, Jen! ~Helen
Let’s face it – it isn’t easy getting a phone number for the likes of MacKenzie Scott (trust me, I’ve tried). I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s ever been given the daunting task of finding contact information for a famous philanthropist. It’s hard enough finding all their real estate assets, disguised under the names of various LLCs, let alone a direct phone number.
While it may be difficult reaching that donor directly, I am here to let you know that there is hope! Try reaching them through what I affectionately refer to as “the back door.” Below are some examples of alternative ways to connect your colleagues with those hard-to-reach prospects:
- Try to find the prospect’s personal assistant
Company websites usually just list the top executives, so you may need to dig a little deeper to find their assistants. I usually begin by searching the name of the prospect’s company in ZoomInfo’s “institution” tab. From there, I click on the list of individuals. Depending on the company, the number of names listed can range from a few to hundreds of thousands. I then sort this list by title, and scroll through until I find anyone whose title matches personal assistant, executive assistant, administrative assistant, etc. With any bit of luck, you will not only find the name of an assistant, but an email address and direct telephone number for them as well.
- Search within the prospect’s company’s website for “hidden” email addresses
Using an extension such as Hunter, you can quickly obtain a list of email addresses within a company’s website (note: Hunter offers a variety of subscriptions ranging in price, but even the free subscription gives you 25 monthly searches, so you won’t need to ask your supervisor to pay for another resource to have success with this method). Sometimes the email address will be accompanied by a complete name, and if you’re lucky, their title. Other times it will not. When I don’t have a name, I simply conduct a new internet search putting the email address in quotation marks. If/when I find the name, I can then run it through LinkedIn to see if I can obtain that person’s title. This method may sound a bit time consuming (which it can be) but has proven invaluable when I cannot find an email address for the actual prospect.
And speaking of LinkedIn, whether you have a paid subscription or use the free version (I use the free version), this can be a great tool for finding personal assistants. Look up the prospect’s company, then review its list of people. From this list, you can search employees by title, or you can simply scroll through the list of people to see if any titles are for an assistant. Once you have a name, you can then try to find their contact information in ZoomInfo or via an internet search. (Just remember that sometimes people hide their full names in LinkedIn.)
Of course, with these tips also come some hiccups….
Sometimes there can be lots of administrative assistants. You can handle this a couple of different ways:
- Include them all and let the fundraiser go from there.
- Limit the ones you pass on to the fundraiser to those for which you have found an email address and a direct phone number.
- Check to see if you can find the assistant’s location. Depending on the size of the company, the assistants may be scattered across various locations. Try to make sure the assistant’s name you provide is in fact employed at the same location as the prospect.
- People change jobs. Often. And sometimes information is outdated. Therefore, whenever possible, try to cross-check titles and companies to ensure the assistant is still, in fact, employed at your prospect’s company.
You simply cannot find an assistant.
- It happens. When all else fails, try to give your colleague something. You may not be able to provide them with the prospect’s personal email or direct telephone number, but putting them in touch with a person whom they can refer to by name is the first step in getting them connected.
Don’t just give your fundraising colleagues a generic email (such as email@example.com) found on the main page of a company’s website, or their main business telephone number; take that extra step to provide your colleague with a specific name and a title, even if it isn’t for the intended prospect.
Chances are, they will have more luck speaking to an actual person this way, which can then lead to a future conversation with the desirable prospect. While it may be premature to expect an immediate call with the likes of MacKenzie Scott, there’s no harm in having an initial conversation with those connected to her. From there, you can let your colleague work their magic to get a meeting with a billionaire prospect.