First, obviously, you must know their name. “Why then”, you ask, “can’t I just pick up the phone and call them?”
In this day of telemarketers, many folks don’t want to be called. Sales guru, Jeffrey Gitomer, says this about cold calls. You interrupt someone’s day. They don’t know you. They probably already have what you are selling. It’s the lowest percentage sales call of all available options, and it’s the most frustrating, demoralizing strategy to give a salesperson.
Also you may have more information to present than a phone call will accomplish. The second piece of information you need is the company they work for. If you know these two items, you have several options.
First, you can go to the company website. See if you can find the format for their email addresses. Look at the “contact us” page, check out each link – somewhere in there you may find a “real” email address.
Do they use first name with no space followed by last name? (i. e. firstname.lastname@example.org) Do they use first name dot last name? (i. e. bob. email@example.com) Do they use first name underscore last name? (i. e. Bob_Smith@company.com)
If you can find anyone’s name and email address on the website, you should be able to tell which naming convention they use. If they use first initial last name and you are trying to reach Bob Smith, then you can try sending a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are still uncertain what naming format they use for email, another approach is to send the same message to several combinations of email address. Start by typing email@example.com, followed by b. firstname.lastname@example.org, then bob. email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. Separate each name by a semi-colon in Microsoft Outlook or put each address on a separate “TO:” line in Navigator.
Now you’re sending the same email message to several combinations of possible email addresses and there is a good likelihood that you’ve got the right one in there somewhere.
After you press “Send”, the message will be sent. Almost immediately, all incorrect email addresses will be returned to you with the title “Administrator” or “mail daemon” or other automatic return mail.
The body of the message should say that one or more addresses were incorrect – you can be pretty sure these are not the correct format. If you send the message to four addresses and only three are returned, you’ve probably hit on the correct format.
But what if you can’t tell and sending to several addresses results in all of them coming back? One company I work with uses the first and middle initial plus the last name and the odds of you knowing their first and middle initial are low. So what other options are open to you?
Many times the person you want to find may belong to a professional organization, or may have been a presenter at a convention, or may have written an article. These organizations often publish the list of speakers or members on their website with their contact information. How do you go about finding them?
Start by going to a search engine like Google. In the search line, type in the person’s name in quotation marks (i. e. “Bob Smith” or “Julia Jones”). Text enclosed in quotation marks tells the search engine to find that exact string of data. After that, type in their company or their title or whatever other information you know about them. It might look like this: “Bob Smith” Big Company CEO email.
Examine the search results. If the person has made a presentation or is a member of a group, you may find that that comes up in a list. It might an association membership list, or a copy of a presentation they did, and often times you may find their email address or their phone number or both.
This doesn’t always work. If the name is too common or they don’t belong to organizations, you might not get results. But with a little patience and imagination, you’ll find more email addresses than you think.
If you have questions about this article, write me at the address below.
Hal Warfield is a speaker, teacher and coach. Contact him at email@example.com . Or read other self-development articles at http://www.halwarfield.com .