There are a ton of reasons to reach out to someone.

Customer development.

You might even want to reach out to someone you already know for user research, but want more background on them before you do.

In this post, you’ll get two proven step-by-step methods to find that right email.

There are a variety of services to scale email collection, research and enrichment. However for this post, we’re focused on what you need for just some simple outreach.

You can use this now, bookmark it for later or pass it off to someone on your team. Whatever you do, you will no longer have any excuse to not reach out.

But FIRST…an outreach service announcement

I’ve seen great companies and people damage their reputation over bad outreach practices, which is just sad to see.

Bad outreach happens when you:
#1 Email “carpet bomb” a group with non-targeted email.
#2 Don’t concisely communicate value.
#3 Are just plain misleading or dishonest. 

We won’t focus much on #3, but please don’t do this. It just slows the world down.

There’s a way to get around #2 and #3. The tough thing I’m afraid to say is: carpet bombing can actually work. Before you consider this type of strategy, I’d like you to consider your personal and business lifetime to be more than the upcoming month. What’s the cost to you or your business of a bad first impression?

To avoid hurting your reputation and communicate more value, break up your initial outreach list.
good outreach

The more you can segment list this, the more you can create more targeted messaging. Plus, you get the benefit of observing the reactions and adjusting based on each batch you send to.

The biggest benefit to more upfront research is you now be shamelessly persistent. 

This is important, because no matter how compelling you message is, you’re first email will often not work when sent to a busy executive. It might take up to 8 touches, or even potentially more until you get a response.   

Doing the research up front gives you the confidence to reach out multiple times and by whatever means necessary – social, carrier pigeon – whatever it takes until you get a response. Onto email finding…

Method #1: How to Find Anyone’s Email Address, Fast.

The below will get you coverage for making contact with almost anyone. Think of the below not like a list but an algorithm. If step #1 doesn’t work, proceed to step #2. If step #2 doesn’t work, go to step #3.

Work these tools and come up with your own preferences or drop any preferred methods in the comments below.  

Step 1: Do a ‘Best Guess’ Rapportive Check

The free Rapportive plugin is usually all you need to find someone’s work email.

rapportive email check

Using Rapportive, I can quickly try variation like “[email protected]” or “[email protected]” and get a check in my inbox whether that email is valid. 

This trick uses the LinkedIn API to verify the information, and funny enough Rapportive itself was acquired by Linkedin.

If this quick check doesn’t work, immediately go to step 2, email hunter.

Although something to note is if I’m reaching out to a larger company Email4Corporations is a good free option to find email variations. email corporations

More advanced, but you can also use the main phone number to get connected to an assistant and retrieve the email you want.


Step 2: Try Email Hunter

Email Hunter is a website (and Chrome extension) which crawls the web to to find email address variations and addresses. It’s quite slick.

If I type in, I immediately get what I’m looking for:

email hunter

What’s great is Email Hunter will find a variety of different emails and give you a number of “sources” where they retrieved the information.

Breaking down the sources I can go into where this was found as well:

email sources

Looks like it got the email from the time I offered my email to our New York City Meetup. Now just type this email into your TO field, confirm with Rapportive, and you’re good.

That doesn’t work? Go to step 3.

Step 3: Try Clearbit Connect

Clearbit is a data company who offers a free gmail plugin that looks like this:

clearbit connect

If you opt to use Clearbit Connect, they will submit your personal email to their system. I’m cool with that.

But what if Clearbit doesn’t work?

Step 4: Try Norbert

norbert email

As of writing, you get 50 free leads from Norbert.

That doesn’t work?

Step 5: Try Toofr

toofr email

That doesn’t work?

Step 6: Try Find Any Email

find any email

Method #2: Create a Magical Outreach List

I’m putting this method as #2 to encourage more responsible emailing because once you try it, you’ll realize the power of this type of service. If you’re thoughtful, ClearBit Sheets is an incredible way to build an outreach list.

(Side note: I talk a little about using BuiltWith for a free smaller outreach list research in my last post.)

With Clearbit, you can magically create a list of contacts who meet your specific needs including: company size, geography, domain, role and keywords. Their freemium plan will give you all of what you need for a quick list in a Google Spreadsheet.

So let’s say we want to do a deal with Pinterest.

We can start by installing the the Clearbit Google Sheet Add On and open it from within a new Google spreadsheet like so:

open spreadsheet addon

Once we click “Open” we’ll get a pop up to the right. Click “Prospector.” For this example, I’ll type “” as our domain, “Executive” as the role I’m searching for, and select “5” to limit our initial search results.

Boom. Like magic, we have a short list of partner executives and assistants at Pinterest:

partnership outreach spreadsheet

You can now further research each of these folks on LinkedIn and elsewhere to make sure you’re reaching out to the best person and increase our odds of a successful connection.

Want to do this additional research quickly? You can use the “Enrichment” tab to pull this and other social information about the contacts you’ve just found:

LinkedIn enrichment

Now, let’s take this a step further. Let’s say we want to be a little broader in our outreach, and want to just find companies in San Francisco with 50 employees, who’ve raised between $1-10M.

For this we can use the Discovery tab and voila:

outreach list discovery

Along with employee count, we have a number of other options to filter by including industry, technology they’re using and so forth. This tool is incredibly powerful, so email responsibly.

Both Clearbit and BuiltWith both offer paid tiers which offer additional searches. There are other paid services like Datanyze and Mattermark, as well as industry specific lists you can find depending on your topic.

If you just can’t find someone’s email..

In most cases you’ll be able get someone’s email. However, if you can’t and they’ve made it to your short list: keep working it. 

Find a way to reach out on one of the many social platforms.

Does your contact have an account you can reach out to on?:

– Twitter
– LinkedIn
– Github
– AngelList
– Udemy
– Pinterest
– Facebook

Your best choice depends where the person you’re connecting with hangs out most. I also tend to stay away from the more personal platforms like Facebook, although I can’t deny they don’t work. 

It helps to keep your own reasonably updated social profile for whatever platform you’re reaching out on. But you can for example create a concise message within a LinkedIn invite to connect request. 

Here’s a recent tweet to gently try to get Andy Carvell on board to get his take on mobile growth tools for our recent study on growth stacks.

andy carvell

If you’re confident you can add value, do whatever it takes.

Final Takeaway On Email Tracking..

If you’re sending outreach, it’s really helpful to track your email.

There are a few tools that will add a small 1×1 pixel in your email and modify your email links to give you the ability to track your email opens and click throughs.

For me, this is an essential step.

If you’re only sending a few one off emails, HubSpot Sales is a free way to get open and click through data for your outreach. If you’re doing a more advanced campaign you can use a few tools like: PersistIQ, OutreachToutSalesLoft or Yesware.

Do you have your own approach that works to get someone’s email or make contact? Let us know in the comments below!

[Please note this post has been updated from an original GrowHack post made in 2013, so some comments below may be dated].