- Internet & the Web
How to Find Old Friends Online
The Internet is great for many things. It's great for research. It's great for entertainment. And it can be great for making and maintaining friendships. However, you have to know how to use it right in order to be able to make the most out of it. For example, it's fairly easy to find old friends, school mates and acquaintances online but only if you know where to look.
Here are some basic tips for finding people online:
- Start with the basic Google search. Google their name in quotes ("John Doe") and see what comes up. If the person has a rare name, this might turn up some information easily. If they have a common name then you might need to sift through a lot of information to see if any of it belongs to the person that you're trying to find. It's a good place to start but it's not the only way to find people online so don't worry if you get stuck at this point.
- Search through Google News and Google Blogs. You never know where people are going to turn up online. A general Google Search may reveal nothing about the person that you're trying to find buy you may discover a news article about the individual or you may find out that they have a blog online. Make sure to check these Google search spots for clues to the person's whereabouts. This might lead to information about how to contact the individual online.
- Go the social networking route. If you don't already have a profile on the major social networking sites then you should make one. MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn are the three musts. Search through each of these sites for the person's name to see if they have a profile on the site. If they do, you can contact them through the site.
- Make a list of mutual contacts. Someone that you both know will be online somewhere. Make a list of all of the people that you know in common. Find these people through Google or through social networking sites. This is made easier if you have an email contact for the mutual friend because email searches turn up better results on social networking sites than names do. You may discover that this person is actually a friend on the site with the person that you're seeking to find.
- Use a people search online. There are many different sites that will actually find old friends for you based on the information that you can provide them with regarding the person's identity. Be aware that you typically have to pay for these services. It's kind of like hiring a cheap version of the private investigator. Most people won't go this far but some people will find these sites to be useful.
If you don't find the person that you're looking for the first time around, consider putting the search on hold and checking back in 3 or 4 months. People often decide to change their social networking profiles or update their personal information online so it may be easier to find them in the future.