For obvious reasons, I think it’s important to know who a buyer is when negotiating. Many buyers use various tactics to stay anonymous (like an email alias), but I want to share some methods I use to see who is inquiring about my domain names.
1) Research the domain name used in the email. While some companies disguise who they are, others do not. If the email isn’t from a free email service like Hotmail or Gmail, do a Google search for the domain name to see if it’s a company. You can also do a Whois search. Make sure the website doesn’t offer free vanity email addresses, which could throw you off.
2) Do a Google search from the person inquiring about the domain name. LinkedIn is a great place to learn about who is trying to buy a particular domain name. Oftentimes there is more than one person with that name, but you can narrow down the likelihood of who it is by the nature of the domain name they want to buy from you.
3) View the email headers to see the IP address. This is a good method when you’ve previously received inquiries on the same domain name. If the email was sent from the same IP (or IP range) as before, you can tell if the same person emailed you.
4) Ask for a phone number to discuss the domain name via phone. You can use the phone number to better track the person or company inquiring. Use WhitePages.com to see if the number is listed there. If not, do a Google search for the phone number. If that fails, call the number either at an odd hour or from two lines at once to get the voicemail to see if that helps.
5) Do a Whois search on other extensions to see if that yields any clues.
6) Search the USPTO TESS database to see if any companies recently filed a trademark for the term in your domain name. This might give you an idea of who would want the domain name.