Hack: How to Find (Almost) Any Email Address with Rapportive

Rapportive Landing Page

While job hunting over the last 6 months, dozens of times I found myself needing the corporate email addresses of gatekeepers. I wanted to email CEOs of startups, recruiters, and old connections whom I found on LinkedIn. Inevitably, I ran into the road block that these people do not make their email addresses publicly available on the internet.

As such, it was a prime problem for a hack. The previous best method was to send emails to all of the possible addresses deducted from a person’s name and hope the one that didn’t get a send failure notification made it to the right inbox. This method usually works, but it is crude. I found a better method that enlists the Gmail plug-in Rapportive to confirm an email address as soon as the guess is entered into the To: box, no sending required.

The Scenario: Let’s say I found a professor at a local college on LinkedIn, and I want to email Mrs. Bell to ask her a question about a marketing job application. I know her profile but not her email address. Assume we are not LinkedIn connections, so I cannot or do not want to send an InMail.

Jane Bell LinkedIn Profile

How to Get the Bacon:

Step 1: Try to figure out how her organization formats email addresses. Some common patterns are first.last@domain.com, first_intitiallastname@domain.com, first@domain.com. Mrs. Bell’s is probably jane@greenville.edu, jbell@greenville.edu, or jane.bell@greenville.edu.

Step 2: Install the free Gmail plugin for Rapportive, available at https://rapportive.com/. It is a service that provides social media information about your email recipients.

Step 3: Plug your guesses into the email To: field and click on them. Then, magic happens.

 If the guess is wrong, nothing will happen in the plug-in box, and the gray question mark will remain.

Not the Correct Email, No Hit

If the guess is right, the recipient’s social media profiles will populate the plug-in, even if they are not a first connection, friend, or followee. Since the person’s background and physical appearance was available from LinkedIn, email address can be matched to the LinkedIn profile without sending an email. In this case, we recognize Mrs. Bell’s picture and credentials from LinkedIn.

Correct Email Hit

Step 4: Send the email to her with with confidence.


I stumbled upon the method below, and it became integral to opening opportunities and lines of communications that would not have existed otherwise.  In my case, it got me my job at Garmin and an interview with Specialized. Beyond job hunting, it is useful for business development, question asking, and the like.

How it works: The magic is that Rapportive can ping the social media sites and return information about the desired email address, even if the user of Rapportive is not a friend, connection, or follower of the address owner.

Pro Tip: By Law of Large Numbers, at least 1 in 5 recruiters was nice enough to field my cold call email. I also found that the line, “Are you a good person with whom to discuss this opportunity, or if not, can you suggest someone who is?” line was very effective.

*Assumptions of this method:

  1. The person you’re wanting to contact uses their corporate email address for social media profiles.
  2. You can guess the format the organization uses for emails.

**Special thanks to Michael Bell for sharing ideas on how to connect with people (read: dig up their email address) and testing this method successfully.

***More special thanks to Rapportive for providing this unintended service.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s