Leads are everywhere. No one should ever put off a cold calling campaign with the excuse of having no one to call. There are many excellent sources to find lists of potential prospects for your market. Many of them are online. Howvere, these databases, while excellent, require a fee. The following are some free resources to explore before you spend your hard-earned money. Read on:

First check out all of your competitors web sites. Many web sites have client / customer pages. Bingo! You have a list of qualified prospects. Do a Google search to get all of the contact information.

Alumni Associations

Looking for leads where you can establish instant rapport? How about alumni from your college? Most U.S. colleges have a searchable online directory for alumni. If you don't know the web address, contact your school or Google them. Once you have the URL there is usually no fee for access. You can search by geography and possibly profession / industry as well.

Chambers of Commerce

Looking for business-to-business leads in your area? How about your local Chamber of Commerce, which will more than likely have a membership directory. Membership directories are wonderful resources for leads. To find the Chamber of Commerce in your area do a Google search. Type in "chamber of commerce" and then your city name. I'm in New York City. When I Googled "NYC chamber of commerce" I found the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, Greenwich Village Chamber of Commerce... On the chamber web site, look for a link to the Member Directory or Business Directory. It may be readily apparent or you might have to search around. Membership directories are not always available online, but many times they are and if you join your Chamber of Commerce, you will definitely receive a membership directory.

If there is a membership directory on line you can usually search by categories and / or industries / professions. You'll find company name, address, phone and fax and probably the web site as well. You may also find the name of the actual member.

Industry Associations

Industry Associations are another great way to find leads. Make a list of the various industries in your market and Google them. Type in the industry name plus "and association." For example, if you want to reach attorneys you would type in "attorneys and association." If you want to target associations for attorneys in your state, type in "and" plus your home state. For example, if I wanted to reach attorneys in New York State, I'd type: "attorneys and association and New York."

Again, many of these types of sites have membership directories that you can access for no fee. Or, you might decide to join the association to have closer access to those members. That way, you will definitely get a membership directory.

If you are not finding the associations you need, try another search engine, which might give you different results.

Companies that List Employees Online

Certain industries such as real estate (commercial and residential), insurance, financial and law firms list their employees online. Visit the company web site to access the leads you need.

Social Networking

Here's something I'm still learning about - social networking I tend to be a techno-moron, but I do have profiles on both Linked In and Facebook. These are great resources to find leads.

Various Other Directories

If your prospects are doctors or medical professionals, you can frequently find them on insurance company web sites, for example: Cigna and Oxford.

The Public Library

Last, but absolutely not least, my all time favorite resource: The Library. Libraries have many resources available to the enterprising and the best part is that many of these are now available online. I checked out the New York Public Library, and this is a sampling of the databases I found that were available online:

Advertising Red Books Online
Business & Company Resource Center
Business Dateline
Business Source Premier EBSCO
Butler Group CIO Knowledge Center
Chicago Tribunte
Communication & Mass Media Complete
Compustat PC Plus
Design and Applied Arts Index
Directories in Print
Dow Jones Interactive
Dun & Bradstreet's International Million Dollar Database
Dun & Bradstreet's Principal International Business CD-ROM
And remember, this is a sampling and I stopped at the D's. With these types of resources available, you don't even have to leave your home or office. You may have to join the public library for access, but that's free as well. University and college libraries also have terrific resources available online and that is another avenue for you to explore.

So remember: Before you spend your hard earned cash, see what you can find for free, first.

© 2008 Wendy Weiss

Author's Bio: 

Wendy Weiss, "The Queen of Cold Calling," is a sales trainer, author and sales coach. Her recently released program, Cold Calling College, and/or her book, Cold Calling for Women, can be ordered by visiting http://www.wendyweiss.com. Contact her at wendy@wendyweiss.com. Get Wendy's free e-zine at http://www.wendyweiss.com.