Email hustling is always a big part of customer development and acquisition. Sometimes the hardest part of a large email campaign is simply finding the addresses of the people you want to connect with.
This is my process for finding email addresses. From here on out I’ll call the person that you’re trying to get in touch with the “target.”
Look at Social Profiles, Business, and Personal Sites
The first, and simplest, way to find an address is to scour social profiles and any websites that are associated with your target. Many people put their email address as public information in their Facebook profile. Lots of blogs and personal sites either have contact forms or explicitly state the email address of the people that receive the contact form messages. This may or may not be the target, but it’s a safe bet that they can help you get in touch with them.
Gmail + Rapportive
Gmail, with the Rapportive plugin, is quite a powerful tool. This is where you can get creative and try to guess an email address. Enter your guess in the To line of your Gmail composition window and Rapportive will look for that address. You’ll get a hit if you’ve entered a legitimate (and known) address.
Common Email Address Formats
Just guessing the email address is a good place to start. Here are the most common formats (not in any order):
Friends of Friends
If all else has failed up to this point then you might try reaching out to your own network to see if anyone knows the target. There’s nothing wrong with an email to a mutual friend of the target asking for an introduction. Plus, you never know when two people actually know each other, so even posting to Twitter or Facebook asking if any of your contacts knows the target can be effective.
Domain Searching in Google
Google can be your best friend here. Search for email addresses by using the exact string “@domain.com”. You’ll be presented with pages where anyone has mentioned email addresses.
I’ve found that Google doesn’t handle email addresses and “@domain.com” searches consistently. Sometimes it can help you discover an email address, other times it will behave as if it has no idea what you’re trying to do. If you’re not getting results then quickly give Bing a shot or move on to another method.
You can also send a tweet to the target (assuming they have a Twitter account), but it’s quite likely that your mention will get lost in the stream if they are have a large following. You can only DM the target if they follow you, so @ mentions is a good starting point. If you do manage to make contact over Twitter you can ask them to take the conversation to email and go from there.
Last Ditch Efforts
If you still haven’t had any success then there are a couple more things that you can try, but they are admittedly long shots. First, lookup the WHOIS information for any domain that the target is associated with. Many people use anonymous WHOIS listings, but there’s a chance that you might be able to see some legit contact info.
You can also check the contact information on the SSL certificates for associated sites. SSL certificates tell you who the contacts are that setup the cert, so there’s a chance your target might be there.
What other advice do you have for finding email addresses? Is there something that I’ve overlooked? Comment below and we’ll collect answers for a future followup post.