Your life is not the same without old friends. They shared your highs and lows and knew you better than you knew yourself. It’s a shame you lost touch, but the loss is not irreversible.
It’s easy to find old friends from school on the internet. A combination of social networks, people finders, and other specialized services can be indispensable. It’s a matter of time before you find people online. Here is how to proceed.
An obvious first step is starting with a full name. If your friend has a commonly used name, the middle name will set them apart from all their namesakes. Common names will lead to quite a few wrong matches, taking you down the wrong road and wasting your time.
Having a full name is no guarantee you’ll get any closer to finding the person. Consider the possibility that your friend may have changed their last name after marriage. If they were married when you fell out of touch, they might have gotten divorced and had their last name restored. Anything is possible.
Try to Remember Whatever You Can
The more information you can recall about them, the better. Many years may have passed since you last met, so this won’t be easy. Try to get this data another way if you can’t remember much. Ask mutual acquaintances or friends you’re still in touch with. The more information you have, the sooner you and your long-lost friend will be reunited.
Where and how you first met them is critical. You may know them from work, the army, or school. If you were coworkers, remembering what they did should be easy. If not, try to remember what their job or profession was anyway.
You might be able to get in touch with them through a relative of theirs. Find a way to contact one or more of their friends or anyone they used to know. You might get information about their whereabouts this way.
Search Using Their Picture
Look them up using Google Image search. Click on any link leading to an image that resembles them. Once you access the site the image is on, there might be a more current picture of them. It’s not very likely, but you shouldn’t leave any stone unturned. Searching using their image is worth doing, even if you don’t find any contact information.
Use People Search Websites
Websites like Pipl, Intelius, and Veromi are among the low-cost or free people finders available to those trying to find old friends. To maximize the likelihood of a positive outcome, try a few people search sites, combine the results, and patch phone numbers of mailing addresses together. While not all of the data you find will be current, you could still get lucky.
Scroll down to the bottom on every site you choose. There might be an email address or a number buried in an online survey, a forum comment, or an old blog post.
Try to recall details if they had their own company. Look up the name, location, or industry and niche. If applicable, search by the university if you know where they studied or military service. The tool Buddy Finder will show you if your long-lost friend ever worked for the military or was on active duty. Many niche sites will let you message people for free.
Facebook is worth trying with upward of 2 billion users. In the search bar you’ll see at the top, enter their name and city or state and scroll down the list. Look at the pictures carefully. Try locations, nicknames, names of mutual friends, workplace, or education.
Use a Background Check Service
Services like CheckPeople, Spokeo, and Information.com can check millions of public records and retrieve a multitude of personal details. You can get a full name, phone number, address history, and social network profile information from a report.
Most screening services will search for names, email and postal addresses, and phone numbers for free. You can perform a reverse email address search to find their current contact information if you have their old email. You can get an email and social media info if you have their phone number. Data begets data.
If you get a current email, contacting them this way is recommended if you feel awkward calling after so much time has passed.
The right background check service will generate a helpful report based on the information you remember about your old friend. It will make them easier to find.
Work and School Information
Search their job or profession along with their name for best results or try to reconnect through an ex-wife or girlfriend. Look for divorce decrees in public records online if they were married.
LinkedIn should not be underemphasized as a resource. Most users have college-related data on their profiles. Don’t start with the person’s name when searching the professional medium. Start with the name of the school they went to. LinkedIn will connect you to other alumni automatically. It’s possible to search by location and job title. You can add and email other users as well as edit your profile to get the most out of this network.
Last but not least, try BRBpub, a way to search public directories for free. Starting with their last known location will help you narrow down your options. Link a company they were employed by or a college or school they attended.