Given a company domain name company.com, and the first and the last name of a person, we can construct the address – if the company follows a certain pattern in email addresses (such as fist-dot-last-at-company.com). How can we find out what the pattern might be?
1. What NOT to do
Do NOT search on Google for
You may be lucky and find some email addresses. But you will be just as lucky (or unlucky) if you search, for example, for “*\company.com”. Both @ and \ are special characters and both are ignored. If you are in doubt, please compare the results of these searches:
- “*\company.com” (or try using any other special symbol instead of \)
2. Check these sites that publish collections of patterns (thanks to Gary for pointing these out):
These sites cover several thousand companies; hopefully, their coverage will grow.
Have access to Jigsaw or Zoominfo? Check a few individual addresses there and you will see what the pattern is like.
3. Google for emails of company employees by using the search string
“email * company.com” (plus some optional keywords)
and/or “email * * company.com” (I have added one more asterisk). Sometimes you will have to exclude addresses starting with “support”, “info”, or “sales” to get to “human’s” emails; we all know how to do that. It’s not necessary, however, to remove false positives if we see enough results to come to a conclusion.
Here’s a simple example:
If nothing can be found, you may want to find out whether the company website domain and the email domain differ and correct the search appropriately.
Sites like Mailtester.com work all in the same fashion, so it’s enough to just try one of them. They do work if the company mail server allows verification of individual emails. They don’t work if the server doesn’t allow that, or if there’s a catch-all email address, or if the server is down at the moment.
5. Cross-reference for verification
This method still works fine! You could use Facebook’s and many other sites’ “find friends” functions as well. To be found, of course, the person needs to be a member with the address registered.
(Cross-referencing via social media also provides a glance at the person’s profile and lets you verify if you do want to send that email.)