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How to get anyone’s email address

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How to get anyone’s email address

Note: originally published at Fredo Pareto.

My life consists of two halves. The half before I learned this method (pictured above), and the uproariously productive half in which I now live.

The method comes from Rob Ousbey at Distilled, and with it, I can find just about anyone’s email address. I’m not sure I could attribute less than 70% of the credit for CellBreaker getting into 500 Startups to this one hack.

Before you begin…

You’ll need to have these three things:

  1. A Gmail account.
  2. The Rapportive Gmail plugin.
  3. A copy of this Google spreadsheet.

You’ll need to know these three things:

  1. First and last name of the person for whom you’re trying to find an email address.
  2. Any domains associated with that person.
  3. Fact: most people have either a @gmail, @yahoo, or @hotmail email, even if they have some domain-specific email as well.

For a decent video overview:

For a summarized step-by-step:

  1. Start by generating ~40 email combinations using the email permutator.
  2. Copy/paste those in the “to” field of a Gmail compose window.
  3. With Rapportive activated, hover over each email combo, one at a time, and wait for the Rapportive box on the right side to display the profile info for the person you’re looking for.
  4. If no dice with a specific domain, try @gmail, @yahoo, or @hotmail in sequence.
  5. Keep in mind that @gmail does not recognize a difference between johndoe@ and john.doe@, but the others do.
  6. Your best combos, in order, are usually jon@, jondoe@, jon.doe@, jdoe@, doe@, jd@, j@, jond@.
  7. If you can find another email from someone else at the same organization, then you can mimic the email nomenclature.

How it Works

Rapportive checks each email address, over which you hover, against the Linkedin’s database, via an API. If the contact has ever supplied that email address to Linkedin, then you’ll get a hit.

Last Thing

FYI, Rapportive used to work equally well with all major social networks–Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, AngelList–but I’m not sure it does anymore since Linkedin bought out Rapportive. Now I think it’s just Linkedin. So keep in mind that many celebrities have no reason to be on Linnkedin. So you might not get a match with Rapportive even though the email address is valid.

Was this post helpful? Let me know in the comments. If folks find this hack helpful, maybe I’ll share more in the future.