Prospecting Secrets: 12 Ways to Find Anyone’s Email

Sales Development Email SecretsBeing awesome at emails can change your life.

Back when I was a stockbroker, I was making 500 calls a day, connecting with 50 people, generating five leads and working relentlessly to close one account. I left a lot of voice mails. They were short, sweet and rarely responded to. Do you know that on average only 18 percent of people listen to voice mails from numbers they don’t know?

Today, I use voice mails only to support the single most effective communication medium for business professionals … EMAIL. There is a groundswell of new research supporting this thesis.

  • More email is read on mobile devices than on a desktop email client. In a Litmus report from this year, the stats say 47% of email is now opened on a mobile device.
  • 36% of respondents check email, social media and texts before doing anything else after they wake up, 21% check their email before breakfast, as reported by the 2013 Consumer Digital Study.
  •  79% of respondents in a 2013 Adobe study reported using  their smartphones for reading email, a higher percentage than those who used them for making calls.

If you are still reading this, I’ll assume that you use email and at some point in the last 30 days, you had a reason to send a message to a person that you didn’t have an email address for. I’ve listed 12 different ways to find anyone’s email and will let you be the judge on which is best.

1) Google the Person

Sounds too easy, but a simple search or two could reveal the email address for the person you are looking to message.

Try the following queries:

  •  [name] + email (or) email address
  •  [name] + contact (or) contact information (or) “contact me”
  • + [name] + email
  • + [name] + contact

2) Connect with the Person

These days, most folks have their contact details gated off behind a connection wall. So, if you have a legitimate reason to connect with a person, send them a request or find a mutual connection and ask for an introduction. Often, the contact details will be visible once you connect to the person. If you are wondering about the best way to request an email intro, read this.

3) Old School: The BCC Bomb

Back in the day, I would fire off a lot of BCC Bombs. This is BAD for so many reasons and does not scale. It worked sometimes, but now, any time I get a BCC Bomb, I ignore it and discount the sender as lacking creativity given all of the other options available. To begin with, I would create all of the different email variants followed by the company’s domain:


Next I would pick one address, enter it in the To field, and paste the other addresses in the BCC field. As soon as I send the email, I will get seven bounces that I will filter through until I can finally deduce the correct email for the contact. This works, but it’s messy and there is a huge perception risk that needs to be considered because this is your first impression on someone.

4) Call the Company and Ask

Good luck getting the executive’s admin to hand over an email address. You’ll have better luck with the switchboard or a different department. You can always call and say something like: “HI, this is Ryan O’Donnell. Mr. Prospect isn’t answering his phone and the email I have keeps bouncing. Do I have his address right?”

5) Crowdsourced Databases

Sites like ZoomInfo and Lead411 crowdsource emails by allowing you to upload your contacts in exchange for finding new emails through their services. This is a quid pro quo approach, and you are relying on the community to ensure accuracy and relevance for the data you are requesting. If you don’t want to share your address book, you can buy data.


6) Email Format

It’s no secret that companies tend to follow a certain email format. I used to use Mails4Corporation or Email Name Finder to find these patterns. You can even apply brute force by creating your own excel formulas to generate the emails. There is still quite a bit of uncertainty here, as the email you think may be correct has not been validated and may hurt your sender reputation, flagging future emails to that company and others to be pegged as spam. Proceed with caution.

7) Technical Checks: MailTester

Another way to verify an email is to use Create the email variants, copy one at a time into the email verification box and click “check address.” The system pings the mail server of the company where the mystery contact works and asks if the email you entered is valid or not.

Technical Checks

8) “People You May Know” Hack

You can use any popular social network’s upload contact/address book option to check if an email you have for a person is valid. If you’ve gone through the process of finding a bunch of options for a person, you can save the address to a new address book or contact list, and upload each record to your preferred social network until the target’s profile is displayed. This can take a while, but it does work.

people you know

 9) Just Ask

There are several ways to architect your ask in a way that the person will be more likely to respond. Things that have worked for me:

– Praise in public: Find a reason to praise your prospect for something they’ve done or posted. Build rapport, then ask to connect via email.

– Call them: If I answer a call from a cold caller, I’ll quickly move to end the call (respectfully) asking them to follow up via email, which I often provide. I process information best in a tactile manner, so reading an email or PDF is my preferred evaluation method. Nothing beats a call for a personal touch, but I’ll typically move to a call with a vendor when I’m close to deciding yes or no.

– If a friend or mutual connection doesn’t want to spend their social capital on an introduction, ask them if they would share the prospect’s email with you (off the record, of course).

10) Social Profile Searching

You can find an email address with some legwork or by using a free search app like SnapBird. As you’ll see below, I ran a search for ‘email’ mentioned within the SellHack Twitter stream and found 19 matching tweets. Interesting to note that lots of folks hide their emails from bots by typing their emails in a format like “support at sellhack dot com.”


11) The Personal Email

A lot of folks have their own blog or personal website listed in their public social profiles. These email formats are often less complex than that of a corporation because a personal site is a one man/woman operation and often the email is

When messaging people for the first time, it’s fair if you want to call out the fact that this is their personal email and you’d be happy to move it over to their business account if they prefer. You are riding the razor’s edge of stalker vs. resourceful, so tread this ground lightly.

12) Automate Your Approach

All of the above approaches can work for the casual connector, but many don’t scale well. Time is money. When your business relies on filling the top of the funnel with valid emails, there is no better solution than automating your email discovery and verification with a service like SellHack. SellHack is an email finder tool. You can use the browser plugin, API or web interface to find business emails. You simply provide a name and company in the search fields and SellHack will return a valid email in seconds.

Guest blogger Ryan O’Donnell is the co-founder of SellHack. 

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Photo Credit: Sean MacEntee

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