Spoke, Zoominfo, and Jigsaw are websites that contain information on 10′s of millions of people and millions of companies. Each site has their own special method of capturing information on people and businesses. What they all have in common, however, is that while you can register and in some cases even run a few searches for free, you have to pay to really dig into their information.
So – would you like to know how to search these sites for free?
Yes? Well you’re in luck – that’s exactly what I’m going to show you in this post.
Use Your X-Ray Vision
Searching these sites for free is actually quite simple. While the X-Ray search technique is frequently utilized to search LinkedIn and to search Twitter, it can be used to search virtually ANY site that allows Internet search engines to index their pages. Sites like Spoke, ZoomInfo, and Jigsaw actually WANT search engines to crawl their information so when you’re on Google and search for a specific name, results from their websites come up – it’s free publicity for them and it drives people to their sites.
For example, when I search for my name on Google, on the first page of results, I find a listing for me on Spoke that’s actually ranked higher than Facebook.
My ZoomInfo listing shows up on Page 2, higher than LinkedIn:
And my listing on Jigsaw comes up on Page 5:
But there is a price to be paid when you allow an Internet search engine to index your site – people can use the X-Ray search technique to search your website for free.
X-Ray Searching Spoke
Spoke gets their data from a variety of sources - publicly available information (such as the Internet), published information, and contributed information from members. According to Spoke’s website, “Personal contact information, including direct e-mail addresses, is not made visible through the Spoke service or via the Spoke website unless a member posts it in the directory themselves.”
Be aware that information aggregated from the Internet may not be accurate or up to date. Also, don’t expect to find many direct phone numbers or email addresses when searching Spoke. However, you can search Spoke by title, industry, and location related information by city, state, and/or area code in some cases if the data is there.
Let’s say you wanted to find project managers in Maryland.
Here is a good X-Ray search string to begin with – I’m going to try and get lucky and find results with at least main phone numbers for the businesses listed:
site:spoke.com intitle:”project manager” (301 OR 410 OR 240 OR 443) (MD OR Maryland) inurl:info -inurl:index
Realizing that not all listings in Spoke will have a phone number, we can take the area codes out and run the search again. Be aware that Google doesn’t properly recognize the NOT operator (the minus sign) used in conjunction with a parenthetical OR statement – so we’ll have to separate all of the area codes we searched for and precede them with minus signs:
site:spoke.com intitle:”project manager” -301 -410 -240 -443 (MD OR Maryland) inurl:info -inurl:index
That search returns about 3910 results. To reduce the number of results to a more manageable number, we can start adding terms to refine the results. You could experiment with industry terms, technology keywords, specific cities, etc.
For example, I’m going to try to find profiles that mention defense or DoD:
site:spoke.com intitle:”project manager” (defense OR dod) -301 -410 -240 -443 (MD OR Maryland) inurl:info -inurl:index
Result #2 is from San Diego, CA, and result #5 is a project manager/interior designer, but most of the results are relevant. Always remember you’re X-Ray searching a site trying to target unstructured data for free – don’t expect perfect results every time.
X-Ray Searching Zoominfo
Wikipedia has a nice summary for ZoomInfo: “ZoomInfo is a vertical search engine focused on people, companies, and the relationships among them. In addition to using the public web as its source to automatically create professionally-focused summaries of the people and companies it finds, ZoomInfo has partnerships with Reunion.com and XING to provide additional data. Using natural language processing, ZoomInfo’s crawlers read English sentences. They then extract relevant pieces of information about people, such as the companies they work for and their job titles. Once ZoomInfo extracts requested data, information integration logic sifts through and organizes this data. Biographies of people found on various Web pages are assembled into summaries.”
You need to be aware that because most of the information contained on ZoomInfo is acquired by software searching the Internet for information and compiling it, not all of the information will be accurate or up to date. Having said that, ZoomInfo has information on nearly 50,000,000 people and over 5,000,000 companies – that’s a lot of information!
Let’s say you would like to find accounting managers in California, specifically in Los Angeles – you could run a search like this:
site:zoominfo.com “accounting manager” “los angeles” (CA OR California) inurl:people
Here’s a look at the first result to give you an idea of what you can expect:
I don’t see any mention of “Accounting Manager” anywhere, do you? In this case, you’ll have to either click on the “view profile” by the online sources that ZoomInfo pulled information from:
Or you can simply click the “cached” version of the result on Google:
As you can see, the information ZoomInfo gathered from the Internet on Mary to create her profile is quite detailed. However, Mary is not currently an Accounting Manager.
You must never forget you’re using the Internet to search for unstructured data for free – so be sure to manage your expectations. What you do get is easy access to quite a bit of data. In the case of Mary - while she’s not an accounting manager, she is a high level finance and accounting executive. If you explore the rest of the results, you will find a mix of accounting managers, directors of finance, controllers, VP’s of Finance, etc.
It does not appear to be terribly useful to try and X-Ray search ZoomInfo to find local results using area codes – so when you’re trying to find people in a specific area, I suggest targeting cities and states.
X-Ray Searching Jigsaw
Jigsaw describes their site as “an online directory of free, downloadable Company information and more than 14 million business contacts. Every Jigsaw business Contact is complete with hard-to-find direct dials and email addresses.” You can join Jigsaw and even run a few searches for free, but in order to continue searching their site for contacts, you will either have to add contacts of your own to earn “credits” or you can simply purchase them.
Lucky for you, Jigsaw is indexed by Google and other Internet search engines, so you can search for contacts for free with some degree of reliability.
Let’s see if we can find partners with Accenture in NY:
site:jigsaw.com “co-workers at Accenture” (NY OR “New York”) partner
Diving into result #1, we can see David is listed as a Partner with Accenture in NY.
We also get some information on his co-workers as well as some contacts in Jigsaw with titles similar to David’s:
Let’s shoot for people with a title including the word “manager” that work at Microsoft in Redmond, WA:
site:jigsaw.com “co-workers at Microsoft” manager Redmond WA
You can search sites such as Spoke, ZoomInfo, and Jigsaw for free and generate quite a few names. However, you’re searching unstructured, and in many cases old/not recently verified information on Internet data for free. There is no guarantee of the accuracy or the “freshness” of the data. Also – if you want the ability to precisely control current titles, employers and specific locations – you’ll have to pay for access to the websites containing the information you seek.
With access to LinkedIn – do you really NEED to search Spoke, ZoomInfo, and Jigsaw to find candidates and business contacts? I’m not sure exactly how much overlap there is between LinkedIn and sites like Spoke, ZoomInfo, and Jigsaw, but I am certain that there are quite a few people on the latter sites you cannot find on LinkedIn. LinkedIn profiles are created by people - most of the information on sites like ZoomInfo and Spoke is aggregated and compiled by applications drawing data from the Internet and various forms of published data. I am positive there are many people who have automatically generated profiles on Spoke and ZoomInfo that have not personally created a social media profile anywhere.
The key to being successful with X-Ray searching most websites is to experiment, experiment, experiment. If at first you don’t find what you seek, change your approach, modify your search string, and see what you get. Use alternate titles, specific companies, industry terms, and try different location criteria/terminology. In my experience, the three sites I featured in this article work best for simple title searching.
Also – pay attention to false positive results – results that mention your search terms but are not matches for what you’re really looking for, and try to modify successive searches to prevent false positives from occuring. Always remember, with this type of searching, it is nearly impossible to prevent all false positive results without comprimizing relevant results.