For a recent project I had to scour the Internet for email addresses of corporate executives. You’d think this would be a relatively easy task. After all, work email addresses are public information, and executives have assistants to sort through and filter their communication so they’re not inundated. But I quickly discovered that email addresses are precious, hidden gems to be excavated via advanced methods.
I found some direct contact information through Hoover’s and through running simple searches in Google, but not as many as I’d hoped, so I revved up the search. First, I ran a search in Google and Bing using the following syntaxes:
Google: “*@companyname.com” OR “email * * companyname.com”
Bing: email NEAR:2 companyname.com
This brought up a few email addresses so I could see the pattern for that organization’s email addresses. Often press releases have the direct email addresses of the marketing or PR team lead.
Once I ferreted out the pattern, I ran a Google search with that pattern using the target individual’s name, to see if it appeared anywhere legitimate. I also tested the validity of the email address at MailTester.com or VerifyEmailAddress.org.
Unfortunately this method isn’t foolproof, as executive email addresses don’t always follow the format for the rest of the company’s employees. (To learn about how executives hide their email addresses, see this article.) But I was able to get 90% of the addresses this way. For the other 10%, I called the company’s switchboard and turned on the charm. In a couple of cases, I had to try different methods on different days, but I finally got what I needed.
Finally, for public companies, don’t neglect public filings as a source. I found some of my targets’ contact information this way.
Do you have any tips for locating hard-to-find email addresses? Please share them in the comments.