Eight Ways to Guess and Verify Email Addresses

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Suppose you are determined to find someone’s email address. With the new LinkedIn InMail policy, some say, this may happen in their practice more often. The post below outlines top eight ways to figure that email address out, starting with a list of guesses.

Before we go there: as the creator of one of the most popular email-finding techniques Rob Ousbey says,

With great power, comes great responsibility.

Let’s keep that in mind! (Don’t spam anyone.)

To find someone’s email address, you can try to come up with a number of guesses, using “email permutators”, known email formats for employers, and, perhaps, your imagination. For larger companies, try this custom search engine to find company email formats.

Note #1: Researching company email formats deserves a separate blog post; I am not covering it here in any detail.

Note #2: The eight verification techniques listed below can work with whole lists of guesses. Verifying just one or two email addresses can be done in some additional ways; that would be the subject of yet another blog post (coming soon).

Once you have a list of email address guesses, here are the eight ways to try and pinpoint the correct address. These eight methods all work in different ways, so if you are not successful with one, you can try another and you may succeed. Each of the 8 ways is quick to try; all are free except the last one.

  1. Find emails with Rapportive (by Rob Ousbey). LinkedIn recently changed Rapportive , so this technique is less powerful now: it won’t cross-reference against any Social Networks, other than LinkedIn, any longer. But the technique still works, by finding the LinkedIn profile registered with the correct address, if the profile exists.
  2. Find Almost Anybody’s Email Address with #LinkedIn: this, actually, works differently from Rob’s technique. This is dynamic cross-referencing; Rapportive provides cross-referencing against stored information, which can, in some cases, be incomplete or outdated. It’s pretty reliable and provides up-to-date information.
  3. Find Almost Anyone’s Email Using MS Outlook: this technique will check email address guesses against LinkedIn, Facebook, and possibly XING, depending on your Outlook version.
  4. Uploading a list of emails to Gmail will identify those with Google-plus accounts. Unfortunately, this is not 100% reliable in our experience, meaning, it may miss the correct profile even if it exists; it’s still worth a try, of course.
  5. The post Find People on Google-Plus by Emails  has a few more relevant hints.
  6. Uploading a list of emails to Gmail will let you to cross-reference them on Twitter. This will not work with large lists, as our experience shows, but will work just fine with a few dozen email guesses.
  7. You can verify a list of email guesses against Facebook. This option is not easy to find! On the page Invite Your Friends locate the link “Import your email addresses” and point to a text file with a list of emails. No worries, you can use it without inviting anyone. Cancel all the invites – and see which email address is right. Note that if you work with a larger volume of addresses to verify (say, for several people at once) and wanted to look at the imported list in detail, the page Manage Contacts is not that helpful, but exporting your Facebook data would be. In the exported data you will clearly see the addresses which have and have not been identified as belonging to members. (I guess there’s another blog post this can be expanded into.) The downside to exporting is that you can’t select only some data to download, so you’ll have to get a complete archive.
  8. Finally, tools like Mailtester.com provide free email checking for one address at a time. They “ping” email servers without sending an actual email. We know that they only work with some email servers. Checking email lists using that technique is offered by a good number of vendors for a price; I have not used that, so my comments will be minimal. Aaron Lintz has pointed me to this site as a good one.

Come to my Webinar on Generating Lists on – NEW DATE! Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 – to hear detailed coverage of these and many other productivity techniques, see examples, get one month of support to practice, and learn not to depend on InMails as much as before. Hurry, I am told there’s not much space left.