How I Got a Meeting with a VP at Facebook for an Hour Pt.1

I don’t go to Stanford nor Berkeley. I’m not an accomplished programmer. I’m not even a CS major. I’ve never interned at Facebook or any of the big name tech companies. In fact, I didn’t even finish high school.

Then how did I manage to get a meeting with Alex Schultz, VP of Growth at Facebook?

Background

I’m a senior at Santa Clara University, studying Management Information Systems. I’m also the VP of Professional Development in Delta Sigma Pi, which is a professional business fraternity. My responsibility is to create opportunities that will catalyze the professional development of the members of the fraternity. This includes bringing in speakers or coordinating trips to companies.

At the beginning of the term, if anyone had asked me who the one person I would love to get lunch with, it’s Alex Schultz. As previously mentioned, he is a VP of Growth at Facebook. I became a huge fan of this guy ever since I watched the lecture on Growth that he gave at Stanford as part of Y Combinator’s How to Start a Startup series. He joined Facebook in 2007 to help Facebook grow by improving user retention, before Facebook expanded internationally. He’s from the UK, educated in physics, and yet has done growth marketing (growth hacking, digital marketing, whatever you may want to call it) almost his entire professional career. He’s been doing SEO since the 90's! I can go on and on about how awesome this guy is, but it’s faster if you just watch his lecture.

How I contacted him

To respect his privacy, I will not disclose his address or get into too much detail. Instead, I will explain my general approach in finding anyone’s email address. So let’s pretend that you want to find out someone’s email address who works at the tech company of your dreams. The process will consist of the following steps.

  1. Find out what comes before “@”
  2. Find out the domain (what comes after the “@”)
  3. Narrow down to a few or one possible address and test it.

Step 1

How common is his or her name?

For generic first names of last names, it’s highly likely that the email will not be just first name. Using my name as an example, it will probably be khirota@xxx.com or kaihirota@xxx.com.

When did he or she join the company?

If the person joined the company early enough, there is a chance that this person may have first name email address. e.g. kai@xxx.com.

Step 2

Search on Google or LinkedIn for other employee email addresses to check what the domain is. You can also do this to verify the format of what comes before “@.”

Sometimes, VPs or managers from big tech companies give guest lectures at top universities. Often times, they will verbally say or include their contact info in the slides. You can also look for that as a last resort. If the person that you want to meet is of the same rank or joined the company around the same time as the speaker, the format should be the same.

You can also use hunter.io. It’s pretty self-explanatory once you click the link, so I won’t bother explaining how that works here. What I can tell you though, is to not trust the confidence level. In my case, the email address format was wrong despite the 95% confidence.

Step 3

Use mailtester to validate the address. To use it, just enter the email address and click “check address.” The result will either be green, orange, or red. I don’t really bother looking at the error message.

If you get green like below, great! The address is valid. Start drafting your email.

If you get orange like below, it means that the server doesn’t let Mailtester check.

Don’t worry, there’s still a way.

If you get orange, add gibberish to before the “@” and check again. e.g. khirota@xxx.com -> khirotafklasjfd@xxx.com.

If it still results in orange, then you may be out of luck. But if you receive red, that means that previously entered address was valid, but the server simply doesn’t allow Mailtester to verify that. Congrats! Start drafting your email.

If you get red like below, I don’t know how to help you, sorry.

However, I’ve used this method with companies like Facebook, Twitter, Tesla etc and it has always worked. I also use this same method for sending my Thank You email after job interviews.

In part 2, I will write about how to write a cold email.

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I sincerely hope that this article helps all my fellow students who are eager to meet someone they look up to, or need to send Thank You email after job interviews. I would really appreciate if you can clap, share, or comment! Also, please feel free to add me on social media via khirota.com.