I recently extolled the virtues of cold emailing, a powerful tool for making valuable connections with other professionals and unicorn investors. But, to be successful, that means you need the email addresses of the people you would like to contact.
Sure, you could reach out over social media, but that isn’t always the most effective approach. Sending a personalized email (not a generic marketing email) that helps you build a connection really is the way to go.
How to Find an Email Address for Free
If you are trying to track down someone’s email address, here are 10 ways that you can accomplish that goal for free.
1. Head to the Company Website
While this may seem obvious, it’s one of the best places to start. Many companies provide contact information for certain staff members, so don’t neglect this resource just because it seems simple.
Once you arrive at the site, head over to the About Us page to see if they provide details for executives or other employees. The News section is another great destination, as PR contact email addresses are often included in articles.
Sometimes the Contact Us page will yield results, but more often than not you are greeted by a form (and your message gets dumped into a customer service bucket somewhere), so don’t be surprised if this doesn’t work.
2. Google It
There is a lot of information floating around online, and unicorn Google‘s search feature can be the key to accessing it.
You might be able to find someone’s email address just be searching their name and the word “email” or “contact.” Yes, it can be that simple.
Alternatively, try other combinations, like the person’s name and the company name or title. It only takes a few minutes to run through these options, and it otherwise doesn’t cost you a dime.
3. Extrapolate Based on Known Email Addresses
Almost every company uses a standard format for the emails (like [first name].[last name]@[company].[com]).
If you find even a single email address to someone in the company, it isn’t hard to crack the code once you see the formatting.
Now, this only works if you have the person’s name, can be trickier for people with common names (think “John Smith”) where there could easily be more than one person with the same name at the company, or for names with multiple potential variations (Robert, Bob, Rob).
However, even if you connect with the wrong person, you may be able to get your target’s email address if the case of mistaken identity results in a reply (or if the “wrong” recipient forwards your message to the “right” one). As long as you aren’t divulging anything that shouldn’t be seen by someone else, or won’t be viewed as a possible phishing attempt, it’s worth a try.
4. Dig In with Advanced Google Search
If you want to check whether your guess at an email address is correct, try an Advanced Google Search.
Put the mail address you think it right into the search bar with quotes on either side, like this: “[email protected]”
If you’re right, you may see it come up in the search results. If nothing comes up, try other variants until you find the unicorn email address among the donkeys.
5. Join ZoomInfo
If you add the ZoomInfo plugin to your Outlook, in exchange for giving them access to your contacts, you get 10 free contacts from their database each month. Millions (upon millions) of people are listed in ZoomInfo, along with 6+ million company profiles, so their database is extensive.
6. Connect with an Admin
If you can find a phone number of the person’s department at their company, see if you can talk to their admin.
Now, you don’t want to just ask for an email address simply because you don’t have it. You need to be a bit crafty to get this to work.
After a warm greeting, ask the admin if they can give you some help (people often like to be helpful, so this statement sets the stage). Ask if they can confirm the person’s email address and then proceed to give them your best guess of what that email should be.
Usually, they will stop you once you make (what they perceive to be) a mistake and will give you the right address in return.
7. Check Their Social Media Page
Sometimes, people list their email addresses on social media. Yes, this isn’t common, but it only takes a few seconds to look, so check personal and company pages to see if any tidbits are available.
8. Look for Personal Websites and Blogs
The sheer number of personal websites and blogs out there is staggering, and many professionals and executives maintain one to help establish their personalbrand.
If you aren’t having any luck with company website-related searches, delve into personal ones.
Most people link back to their personal site on their social media profiles, particularly on LinkedIn and Twitter, so see if you can find their website there and use that information to run additional searches.
You may end up with the person’s personal email this way, but that can be just as effective as reaching out to their company one.
9. People Search Sites
Some people search sites actually allow you to receive results for free, though this is becoming less common. However, it doesn’t hurt to give this approach a try.
Bear in mind that the information you find may also be out-of-date, so your mileage may vary, but giving this a whirl doesn’t cost you anything anyway.
While Jigsaw.com does have paid search options, you can look up some information for “free.” They use a model where, if you provide one contact, they’ll let you have one without an additional charge.
It is important to note that all of the information is user provided, so that means there is no guarantee it is accurate. Plus, it is possible the person you want to connect with isn’t in there at all.
If these free options don’t produce the results you need, there are a wide range of paid services out there as well. Or, you can simply reach out in a direct message on social media and see if you can establish a connection there.