Email is a great system when it works well, but it has some frustrating limitations. You have to know someone’s email address to be able to reach them via email, and there’s no central database for finding email addresses. You can often use the internet to find people’s mailing addresses via directory searches, but not such parallel exists for email. If you need to get in touch with someone but don’t have their email address, here are a few tips for finding someone’s email address.
If you’re looking for someone within your organization, you can use Outlook to find the person. Simply create a new email, then click the button next to the “To:” field. This will bring up an address book search. Try searching last name first.
You can also use a keyboard shortcut: click in the “To:” field, then start typing the person’s last name. Press ctrl + K, and Outlook will narrow your list. Click the right one, and you’re done.
It gets a little tougher outside your organization. Here are a few tips.
You can always try a good old-fashioned internet search. Search for the person’s name and the word “email”. Maybe include the person’s job title as well. For all examples below we’ll be searching for Frank Johnson, accountant at Awesome Accounting, Inc.
Get creative with your Googling. Other search ideas include searching [“Frank Johnson” “contact me” “Awesome Accounting”] or [“Frank Johnson” “Accountant”]. If you’re looking for a personal account, you could also search for [“Frank Johnson” AND “@gmail.com”]. Keep trying other popular email services.
Mine Social Media
Many people have an email address associated with their Facebook or LinkedIn accounts, and sometimes they make this public. Be sure to search social media for the person you’re trying to contact. Even if you can’t find an email address, you will likely find a way to contact the person. If it’s a personal contact, a Facebook message might be most appropriate. If it’s a business connection, stick to LinkedIn.
Check for a Website
Does the person you’re looking for have a website? If so, there is likely a “contact me” page there. These often route directly to an email inbox. You don’t get to see the address unless the person replies, but it’s a place to start. Some people also include an email address directly on their websites. This is less common, but it’s worth checking.
Use a Search Tool Like Pipl
There is no universal directory for email addresses, but services like Pipl are doing what they can. Pipl maintains a database of known contact information for many people, and it’s free to use. If your other methods don’t yield results, check here.