Magazine article Information Today

People Finding 2.0

Magazine article Information Today

People Finding 2.0

Article excerpt

My clients ask me to locate background information on individuals at least once a week. The requests range from attorneys to CEOs of big corporations to employees of small businesses.

While traditional searches still apply to these requests (web search, people finder libraries on fee-based databases such as LexisNexis and Westlaw, etc.), it is no sur- prise that background infor- mation research has moved in a different direction due to the proliferation of social network sites. Librarians need to take a look at "nontraditional" on- line sites while remembering that the information on these sites may not always be accurate. So even though more biographic information is available on people (usually added by the individuals themselves), thorough detective skills are still needed. Part 1 of this two-part column will focus on individual web tools, and next month, Part 2 will focus on meta social search tools.

Digging Into Online Data

After searching some of the resources that corporate librarians are already familiar with, I attack the largest business social networking site online, Linkedln ( Although most people associate this site with colleagues connecting to colleagues, I find it useful for discovering current and past employment histories as well as educational backgrounds. Unlike Facebook, most information in the profiles is public (just log on to view). I have used Linkedln to assist in figuring out approximately how many employees a small business has or how many people with a specific title (i.e., customer service representative) have been hired by a specific company during the past 5 years.

Although the number is not exact, this information is usually not available anywhere else for free (unless it's a public company). Linkedln also shows how long individuals have been employed at companies. Of course, this information varies according to the type of information disclosed by the individual. But I always preface my note to the client that this information is not complete and may not be accurate.

Letting the Web Do the Work

ZoomInfo ( is another site that contains biographical information. The difference is that Zoomlnfo scours the web and gathers the information into a profile, while with Linkedln, the individual provides the content. …

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