The business world is a moving target.  Companies come, companies go, and the #1 mission of savvy job hunters should be to scan the horizon for emerging organizations and relevant individuals — then contact these entities, proactively, to introduce themselves and try to uncover some hidden hiring needs.  Only focusing on the large well-known companies around town is typically a losing strategy, as is waiting for a published job advertisement to appear before initiating dialogue with a given employer.

This being said, while I’ve featured many outstanding company research tools over the years in my blog/newsletter, every now and then a new resource pops up that may not quite match the caliber of the other sites I most frequently recommend, but offers an intriguing new twist that might be a useful addition to one’s overall arsenal of research sources.  Cardbrowser.com is one such resource.  This enterprising little site intertwines the worlds of old-fashioned “networking by business cards” and modern web search technology by serving as an on-line repository for thousands of business cards that have been collected at professional, industry, and trade conferences around the globe.

The concept is simple.  The creators of the website have identified hundreds of business events and trade shows that tend to attract the “movers and shakers” in various niche industries, then they’ve amalgamated the business cards of all of the attendees at these functions into a single database that web users can search in various ways.  Currently, they’ve got over 150,000 cards in their system, representing conferences ranging from the ABA TechShow (focusing on Legal Software & Technology) to the Homeland Security Conference to the Wireless Dealers Expo.  Upon clicking on any given conference, the site user is shown a list of all the job titles and companies that CardBrowser has stored for that particular event, then can decide whether to pay for the full set of data (i.e. contact name, e-mail, phone number, website, etc.) or attempt to turn up some information on the company for free, on their own, through a Google or LinkedIn search.

My recommendation to any job hunters visiting the site is to first click on the “Guest Login” button, then scroll through the list of recent trade shows to see if any of them match your particular industry focus or target niche.  If you find one, I’d suggest you then click on the “State” column header to organize the companies alphabetically, by location, which will make it easy to see which companies are headquartered in your local area.  Alternatively, sales representatives and similar “mobile” professionals might instead ignore the location criteria and aggressively contact organizations located anywhere around the country to see if they need a Pacific Northwest territory representative.

At the end of the day, it’s definitely a neat concept, and I suspect the data (if one pays for it) is of a very high-quality, given that it is sourced directly from business cards.  And while I was initially on the fence about the site, a quick search of my own on the 2008 ASTD Conference (American Society of Training & Development) turned me on to a number of very interesting training and development organizations in Washington State I’ve never heard of — which sealed the deal and made me an instant convert!