If you\u2019re in a service-oriented industry like law, banking or consulting, it may be time to take a fresh look at enterprise relationship management (ERM) software. Less well-known than its KM and CRM cousins, ERM helps professionals looking to drum up new business avoid the office-wide e-mail plea for contacts at target organizations. Instead, ERM quickly reports whether a colleague next door or across the country can connect you.To avoid missing potentially profitable connections, Sheppard Mullin, an AmLaw 100 firm with offices throughout California, installed an ERM system from Contact Networks. The firm, which has nearly 500 attorneys, also has offices in New York and Washington, and plans to open its first international office in March. The expansion \u201cfurther increases the challenge of finding out who knows whom,\u201d says CMO Victoria Spang.When an attorney queries the system, the software tracks e-mail patterns to detect relationships, ranks relationships according to their perceived strength and then reports which attorneys have contacts. It\u2019s up to the attorneys to decide what happens next.The law firm does not provide names or contact information directly, though it could. (Contact Networks lets customers set the level of privacy.) The software can search address books, calendars, e-mail and the like. Sheppard Mullin\u2019s marketing and IT departments opted for the highest-privacy option. Sheppard Mullin also rejected some hosted ERM options because it didn\u2019t want to export information beyond its firewall.Another key benefit of Contact Networks\u2019 product: No one has to update data. Unlike typical KM and CRM programs, the application maintains and updates information itself.\u201cIt helps us leverage our relationship capital with little human intervention,\u201d Paulson says.