In many cases, it's desired to know the IP address of someone in the reconnaissance phase. The first question to ask is what information do I have about this person. In most cases it's possible that you have the email or IM of the target. First let's discuss the methods:
if you have a web server hosted someplace where you can see its logs then it's very easy to send someone a URL of an image or any webpage hosted on your web server ( http://188.8.131.52/veryfunnyimage.jpg) whenever this page is visited the web server keeps a log of who visited that page (IP address, time, browser, OS ... and lots of more info) where you can check later to collect IP addresses.
sometimes people get freaked out from addresses that have ip addresses in the URL so having your webserver with a domain name would really help the person you sent the URL to press on the link (www.mywebsite.com/veryfunnyimage.jpg)
Some paranoid people don't open links to unknown sites. so here comes the cool trick. you can embed the image in a post of yours in a known site that allows HTML tags with image sources like < img src = (your image URL). in this case the URL you are going to send to the person is a link to a known website but the website contains another link to your web server. And whenever someone views this page on the known website, the "img src" link is invoked and voila!, you have a log entry on your webserver.
Some Ultra paranoid people don't open links at all!! for these people I use my old trick. I send an email to the target that looks important to him (depending on the target actually and what's important to him). This email is in HTML format and contains a tag that links to an image on my webserver (probably a white image not to attract attention). Now upon merely opening the email, my webserver is invoked and a log entry is saved about the persons current IP address.
Note that this method only works if the email client allows images to be displayed (gmail disable that by default)
A more faster approach is IM. If you have the IM of the target, then it's possible that you try to send him a file (not malicious, a picture or smthng). upon sending the file, a direct connection is established between you and the target. with a simple connection monitoring application (e.g.netstat on windows), you can know the Ip address.
Some paranoid people don't accept files! so another trick in case of MSN is background sharing. the default for MSN is to accept backgrounds shared by others. Actually background sharing performs file sending if the background is not one of the default backgrounds. So the trick is to set your background for the IM to a cool pic from your computer and share it. if the default setting was not altered on your target's IM, then he will automatically accept it right away and a connection is opened. here comes again the connection monitoring app where you can identify the new connection and extract the IP add of the target.
Well those are one's that I used .. do you have any other methods ?? sometimes I only have the username on a forum or website. Any clues?
In MSN messenger, if u don't have the display picture of the person you're talking to, the messenger will try to download it by default. this cause the the MSN to open a direct connection. Using a sniffing tool like wireshark will allow you to know the IP of the remote person.So basically if you don't have his display picture and you opened the chat window you'll get your log entry. You can either convince the target to change his/her display picture or you can remove the your local directory that caches the display pictures for all contacts (located in application data folder for the msn) to force the messenger to redownload the picture.