How to Find Old Friends on Facebook
How to Find and Connect with Old Friends on Facebook
For some time I have wanted to connect with old friends I haven't seen in years, on Facebook. Unfortunately most of them have very common names. Have you ever tried to find a "Jane Smith" or a Ted Williams" in a people search on Facebook when you have no idea if they have moved and you don't have a current email address?
Let's say you do look up "Nancy Jones." You will probably get at least 30 of them. At least half of these will have no identifying information such as a city or picture available unless you are already a friend. You don't really want to send messages to 20 people asking if they are the Nancy Jones you went to school with 20 years ago at UCLA. How do you find the right Nancy Jones? I don't promise that you can, but here is what I have tried this week that so far has worked for me.
First, I started thinking in terms of who knows who else that I know. I started with a church directory I saved from 20 years ago. I found one person I wanted to search for that had both an uncommon (or so I thought) first and last name. I thought that since many of us were mutual friends, I might be able to find the other friends I was seeking though (I'm making this up) Mathitbelle Glockmeyer. So I looked up Mathitbelle Glockmeyer.. Bingo! There she was. So I clicked on her name and really lucked out because not only her picture showed, but also her friend list. Since it's a very big world, I checked the friend list to see if I recognized any names. Bingo again! I found one with the last name of Miller that I never would have found by looking up her name. Now I was sure I had the right Mathitbelle Glockmeyer, so I sent the friend request. Then I started down the friend links. I checked the Miller's list of friends and hit the jackkpot. Her list had the name of the minister's wife of the church many of my friends near my former home had attended. I found everyone else I had been looking for on that list.
I was lucky, since some of my friends let some bit of information show in their profiles that could help old friends find them. Sometimes the person you are looking for has no information except their name showing, along with ten or fifteen others with the same name. When this happens, consider if you have mutual friends you can find who have less common names, and then search their friend list if it's visible. You can usually tell if you have the right friend if you see the names of their family members in their friend list or the names of mutual friends. Use every clue you can find, since the location might not be the one you remember. The first friend I looked up and found, had moved clear across the county. But her friend list confirmed I had the right person.
Here's how I located my favorite college roommate. My last letter was not returned about six years ago, and I wasn't sure my friend was even still alive. Her name is unusual, and it does not come up on a search. Neither does her husband's name. What to do next? Try the children. I know my friend had two daughters, but I didn't know where they live now or if they have changed their names. I looked up the first one and checked her friend list. The second daughter's name appeared on the friend list, so I was pretty sure I had struck gold. Last night I sent a message to the older daughter asking about her mother and giving enough identifying information to confirm that we were indeed friends and that I had even visited them all in Maryland in 1985 with my family. I finally heard back from both daughters and it turns out the younger one is living near her mother in Texas. Unfortunately the reason my letters and emails were never answered is because my friend now has dementia. But at least she's alive and I can get news of her and see her pictures through her daughters.
If you are the kind of person who would like to connect with your old friends -- especially those with common names -- make it easy for them to find you. If you are married, be sure to put your maiden name as a middle name. Your old high school friends may not know your married name or recognize you if you send a friend request without it. If you do send a friend request, be sure to include a personal note to remind your old friend how you knew each other. The memory can fade after 25 or 50 years. I know when I get my notices from Classmates.com about who has visited my profile, I recognize some names of people who were acquaintances, but can remember little about them. People you used to know in high school may not remember you very well either. Make is easy for them to remember you.
I hope that these hints will make it easier for you to finally connect with some of those old friends you've been looking for. If you can't find them on Facebook, you might also try Plaxo or My Space, depending upon which venue you think they'd be more likely to use. Now I think I'll go try to find some other people I've been looking for.
Old Friendships Can be Renewed
Friendship is Precious
Make new friends, but keep the old.
One is silver, the other gold.
It's not always easy to find your old friends again, but but it's well worth the effort. I'm not suggesting you friend every possible person on Facebook or any other networking site, but it's a great place to get back in touch with those lost friends who used to mean a lot to you.
Some other suggestions for locating people
Some of the comments I have received were from people who were unsuccessful in locating friends and family on Facebook. Sometimes we have to face the fact that many people want to keep a low profile on the Internet, and some don't even have computers. The older a person is, the more likely they may not think a computer is important enough to get. There are people I haven't been able to locate either.
If you have not been able to find someone following my suggestions above, I suggest you get a domain that's just your own name. Use it to start a blog. Make a post for each person you want to find with their names and all identifying information you have (but not birthdate and social security numbers or other aids to identity thieves. ) You might mention what you know about locations they've lived, schools they've attended (with years), and places they have been employed if you know them. Mention the names of mutual friends and family members.
Almost everyone on the Internet at some time Googles himself just to see what's been written about him. If you have his name on line, chances are he will find it if he looks. Or maybe one of the friends or family members will Google themselves and see that you are looking for that person and they may know who he is.
I will not post comments here that would turn this into a bulletin board for searchers, especially those with email addresses or phone numbers. You really don't want those posted in such a public place because it will open you to all sorts of unwanted messages and calls. Get a domain or start a blog with your name in it and let people search for you. Most web hosts give you a free domain email address you can post on your web site without giving away your personal email address.
Happy hunting, and good luck!
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