Hoovers Tries Its Hand at Social Networking

To use Linked In, Jigsaw or other social-business networking services you have to hunt for business connections. Hooevers Connect, which is powered by Visible Path, is a free tool that will look at your own network of relationships to help you find business contacts automatically.
Through a Microsoft Outlook plug-in (with more email programs to be used later on), Hoovers Connect automatically scans and ranks your relationships by strength, then connects you to people and manages your personal network.
The New York Times writes Users who visit Hoovers.com are shown the site’s typical collection of information regarding businesses, including contact information, sales statistics and key executives.
But those who sign up for Connect can download software from Visible Path that makes note of whom a user messages via e-mail and how frequently (it does not monitor the content of the communications). The service tracks activities within Microsoft Outlook, the dominant business e-mail system, and will eventually include Web-based e-mail systems like Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo Mail.
From there, Connect builds a meta-network of sorts to determine how one is connected to other businesspeople across the country. When a user tries to find information about, say, Microsoft, he is greeted with a box saying: “Connect to Microsoft through someone you know.” Visible Path’s software maps the contacts between the user and workers in various parts of the company, then determines who in the network would be most likely to introduce the user to a given executive.