How To Find A Long-Lost Friend Online

Every once in a while, we'll be looking through old letters or our high school yearbooks, and suddenly be blown away by the memory of an old friend who we haven't thought of, or heard from, in years. How great would it be to catch up with them, talk about old times, and see what their life is like now?

Just a few years ago, with nothing but a phone book in hand, tracking down a long-lost friend would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible. But now, with an almost infinite amount of data bouncing around the Internet and email becoming more of a major means of communication, a few simple tips and tricks may be all you need to find just about anyone you're interested in.

The simplest, and often most useful, resources for tracking people down are online White Pages directories, such as whitepages.com and people.yahoo.com. These work just like your paperback White Pages, except they hold, in one place, information on nearly everyone in the United States. All you need to input are the person's last name and first initial, and the site will track them down in seconds.

But, of course, sometimes the friend you're looking for may not be listed in these sorts of public directories. But that's no reason to give up! Here are four more quick and clever strategies for finding someone over the Internet:

  1. Sometimes, the solution is as simple as running the person's name through Google (especially if they have a unique name). You may end up finding their personal web site, their resume, or one of many other sites that has their contact information.
  2. To make your search more specific, make sure to put their name in quotes (i.e. "John Smith"), and to add some extra words with details you know about them. For example, if you know that they lived in Nebraska, or worked as an anesthesiologist, throw those words into the search, and play around. Even with a common name like "John Smith", those extra keywords may make the difference in zeroing in on your particular friend.
  3. You can also look through social networking sites like Facebook, Myspace and LinkedIn. Especially if you know specific details about your friend, like their approximate age, where they went to school, and who their friends might be, you can pinpoint them in no time. There are even some sites that specifically exist to connect old schoolmates, such as Classmates.com and MyLife.com.
  4. If you think your friend has moved, and have some old contact information for them, such as an email address, you can use a reverse email lookup service to find out where they are now.

Finally, you should always remember that, even with all the wealth of information available on the Internet, your most powerful resource is still the people you know. Ask your online friends if anyone knows where your long-lost friend (or any of their family members) has gone. If you get online and get in touch with everyone in your network, you will often be surprised by just how much you can find out.

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