It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.
Relationship Science (RelSci) is a repository of information on influential people: who they are, who they know, and what you have in common with them. And today, it has announced that it is opening up its database to everyone.
The company, headquartered in New York, has been providing information on people, companies, and relationships to enterprises since 2010. It has raised $126 million in funding to help fuel this mission, and the launch of this new, access-for-all website launches the company into direct competition with the likes of LinkedIn. While this initial launch may not include much in the way of social networking, RelSci has plans to eventually bring that functionality to everyone.
“Right now, our enterprise clients have a social networking element, in that they can share relationships with colleagues and create people and organizations,” Neal Goldman, founder at RelSci, told me. “Soon we will be releasing the functionality for Professional users (individual subscribers) to share relationships and collaborate with each other.”
That’s important because RelSci’s new product is particularly useful for connecting individuals to valuable contacts via colleagues and friends — precisely the way LinkedIn used to work before it seemingly shifted focus to article publication and status updates.
“We have numerous, unique ways in which this will be an elegant solution for colleagues and friends to help each other,” Goldman said. “We are also developing several apps on top of the relationship graph that have social elements. This type of power has only been available to enterprise clients, but now we will be bringing it to all users through the Professional version.”
Gaining new connections through known contacts is a staple of social sales, PR, marketing, and networking. A new contact is always “warmer” when introduced by a friend. However, there has been a rise in the number of email address discovery solutions recently, and that has led to the return of the “cold email.” RelSci takes a dim view of that approach.
“Today, we don’t provide email addresses or phone numbers,” Goldman said. “Getting in touch with your endpoint [person or company] does ultimately require a warm introduction by someone you know, with the system providing you with the information about who can make that introduction.”
That approach creates a stronger initial connection and puts the initiator on the front foot.
“To date, we have had a philosophy that ‘we provide the science, and you provide the art’ of how to navigate relationships, and if people are awkward and inappropriate, they will be so whether they have our information or not,” Goldman said.
That doesn’t mean contact information isn’t available through RelSci, but it has been provided on a case by case basis.
“Amazingly, some of our clients have asked us to provide contact information, and we are integrating it for them,” Goldman said. “We have not yet decided if or how that would become available to Professional users. We do have some very unique business development alerts that identify opportunities that can be capitalized upon through your relationships. While we don’t today, we could include some suggestions about how to most elegantly proceed.”
This leads us on to another question about access to the data. Will RelSci be providing API access to the database, or will the data only be available via the website?
“While we are not releasing a public API to the core dataset at this time, we do provide that to our enterprise clients,” Goldman said. “As a matter of fact, the entire Relationship Science site runs off of our API. We will be launching something very exciting in the next few months around allowing public API access to our relationship graph. We have mapped the relationships of a universe that no one else has previously, and we are excited to see the many apps that people ultimately develop on top of our graph.”
The new website is available from today. The solution offers individual users free access to 10 profiles from the RelSci database every month, providing information on businesses and influential people — including details on work history, board memberships, nonprofit donations, interests, awards, investments, and other intelligence. Individuals can purchase a subscription for $50 per month to access RelSci Professional, which provides unlimited full profile views, relationship mapping, and curated alerts for people and organizations, among other benefits.