Over the past few weeks, we’ve been cold emailing people about CrowdSync, in hopes that we can get in front of people who have a problem that we can help them solve. We look for people on sites like LinkedIn, and try to establish whether we think they’re a good fit, based on the words and phrases they use, then we email them.
I get a lot of mixed responses - most of them polite, a few quite profane, and others simple asking this:
“How did you find my email?”
The short answer? Really, really easily. Here’s one of the places we probably found it:
On Your Website
This blows my mind, but it is what it is. Many people put their email address right on their website, in plain text, then email me wondering how we found it. Chances are, they forgot it was there.
(So you know, we do much of our sourcing of people via LinkedIn, and finding your website address is as simple as checking your profile, or just googling your name a couple keywords.)
On Your LinkedIn Profile
Speaking of LinkedIn, many people drop their email address right on their LinkedIn profile. Again, in plain text. Piece of cake.
In Your Resume
This is the gold mine that no one thinks about. An amazing amount of people have their resume on their website (and for good reason). That resume, because it tends to be printed and handed out or mailed, tends to have an email address on it. 99% of the time we find a resume on your site, it has an email address in it.
(BTW, we look for a resume almost immediately when we hit your site, because of this)
In Your Source Code
This one is a bit trickier, but often, people will have their email address somewhere in the source code of their site, usually linked from a crappy contact form that exposes the link, sometimes from another random link on the site.
We’ve even found these commented out in the code.
Finding these is a piece of cake. We view the source of your site (which can be done in any browser), and we search for “@”.
When people give talks, and share the slide deck on sites like [Slideshare][slideshare], there’s a better than average chance that the first or last slide in the deck will have an email on it. Like resumes, this is something we look for soon after we hit a site.
On Social Profiles
Like presentations, if people publish papers in journals, the email address is often right there on page 1, or somewhere in the citations or author bios on the paper. Since many papers are freely available online, this is a pretty easy place to snag contact information.
The Wayback Machine
Had a website a few years ago, and the domain lapsed? Or, had your email on your site, but took it off later? A simple trip to archive.org and we’re able to look back in the past and find things that don’t exist today, including your email.
Most email addresses follow an incredibly predictable format. [first].[last]@company.com, or [f][last]@company.com, or [first]@company.com, or [first].[last]@gmail.com. We’ll often just try to brute force these, knowing we’ll still end up with about an 80% hit rate.
How to Not Get Found
If you don’t want to get cold emails from startups like us, I’d recommend thinking of this as a checklist. Go through each of these places, and scrub up where you have your contact information littered out there. It’ll make our job harder, and keep your privacy intact.