Barb has been active on writing, blogging, and social media sites since 2006. She constantly has to guard against social media burnout.
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.
Look for Mutual Friends
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 would never 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 jackpot. 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.
Search for Friends With More Common Names
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.
Search for Their Children
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 that 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.
Make It Easy for Friends to Find You
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.
Send a Personal Note When You Reach Out to Reconnect
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 it 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 MySpace, 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.
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.
Start a Blog or Website
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 online, 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 website without giving away your personal email address.
Happy hunting and good luck!
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 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.
How has Facebook or another networking site helped you to keep in touch?
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on December 11, 2020:
Read and comment on the posts of other and participate in the forums.
Marukh from Islamabad on July 07, 2019:
And how to find friends on hub pages?
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on July 21, 2012:
shameemweb, you simply can't find people on Facebook if they have no account there. But if you have mutual friends on Facebook, you might be able to contact them about that mutual friend you are looking for.
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on July 21, 2012:
Shaam, It is hard to keep up with all of the features and applications available in Facebook. I tend not to use most of them because I have privacy concerns. I don't like making my friends' information available to strangers and applications, for example. I'm glad you enjoy Facebook.
shameemweb from India on July 21, 2012:
Its not much easy to find the friends through facebook until they create account
ShaamCA from India on July 20, 2012:
Facebook is really growing very fast it has got many features in it ..plays a major part in social media network and this friend finder is really amazing
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on February 14, 2012:
I wish I could help you more, but I only am able to tell you how I found people. I wasn't able to find everyone because some people just don't have an online life and don't leave internet footprints.
lalitha ranjanee on February 11, 2012:
i am lalitha ranjanee from sri lanka age 57 years. i am searching my old school days pen-pal april cannon who lived 4711,utica,michigan,usa about 35 years ago. please help me to find her.
my e-mail email@example.com
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on December 29, 2011:
Ron, I added some more to this article with further suggestions. I'm not an expert on the other sites. You might try Linked In if you think your friend may be in business. You can try tweeting for information on Twitter if you have a number of followers, with a request to retweet. Check Google+. I assume you've already done a Google search for your friends name. Did you check the Internet white pages for name and last known address? Of course, many people have unlisted numbers and that might yield nothing. Some people just may not want to be found and may not even be alive anymore. Good luck.
Ronbo61 on December 28, 2011:
I came across your article while conducting my own(so far fruitless) search for an old friend.
I have searched & searched, & reviewed pay search sites, 99.9% of which are scams.
I have little info & her name is quite common,not to mention that it has most likely been changed by marriage. I only know her name&her sisters name. She has a brother,but i cannot recall his name. Her mother was divorced when i knew her & i only know the city & state she lived in when we were connected. I say that because we ran into each other a couple of years later & she told me that she moved to an adjoining state,but i cannot recall the city for sure. That was over 30 years ago. I wanted to reconnect about 25 years ago,but we did not have the power of the internet then & i figured it was an impossible task.
I have tried everything you suggested in your article & am pretty much at wits end as far as trying to be "the locator ".
I am now thinking that i would have a better chance if i were post some sort of notice that would be picked up on search engines.
Something like: "Looking for old friend. Tina Welch from Bowie MD 1975-76 Last known address Arlington? Alexandria? Virginia 1978. Please let me know if you have info on how i can contact her ,or ask her to contact "Ronny" via this post"
I am quite internet savvy, but have very little experience with the social sites & the proper etiquette for posting a person search.
Near as i can tell my best chance to locate her would be through Facebook, Twitter, or possibly Craigslist.
Maybe you know of a forum for posting people searches?
Any suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated.
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on May 02, 2011:
6hotfingers3, I apologize for getting your handle wrong above. I mistook the 6 for an "s." That's how it looked to my old eyes. Add to that that the brain usually interprets a bunch of letters into words it knows and I came out with Shotfingers3. Only after I started to contact you to ask how you choose that name did it display in large print. Then I saw my mistake. I'm really sorry. Now I'm wondering why 6 fingers instead of 10.
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on May 02, 2011:
Shotfingers3, I'm glad you found your relatives. I wish I could find mine. I suspect the ones I want to find either aren't on the internet or are dead, since most are my age or even older.
6hotfingers3 on May 02, 2011:
FB is an amazing tool. Thanks for writing this informative article. FB is a great way to reconnect with pople that managed to disappear from our lives. I found relatives this past week that I had not talked with in years. It was a great feeling to reconnect. It was as if we never lost contact. Great hub!
Elena@LessIsHealthy on May 02, 2011:
I like how you celebrate the friendship.
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on March 11, 2011:
Mrs J.B., I did find my roomie through her daughters, but, alas, have not been able to communicate with her. Her daughter says she has developed dementia and is living in Texas. This made me very sad,since Lisa said even if I came to visit, she might not recognize me. Ironically enough, the last time I saw Kate was in California, when she came to visit her dad,who lived almost in the shadow of the dorm where Kate and I had lived together. Her dad did recognize her, but also had dementia, so their conversation was not terrible satisfying. It gave me an idea of what a visit with Kate might be like, should I attempt it. Kate had such a lively mind, always busy. It's hard to imagine what that mind is doing now. Her daughter Margaret is someone the entire country hears from now, since she is Margaret Talev, a White House press correspondent. Every time I see her byline or hear her name on the news, I remember her as a child at home, and I think of her mom,with whom I cannot expect to have another coherent conversation.
Mrs. J. B. from Southern California on March 11, 2011:
I am not even on FB but I want to know did you find your favorite roomie????
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on August 08, 2009:
That's why I suggested that women who sign up for Facebook always include a maiden name. I had to write several old friends back before approving them to ask what name I might have known them under. Sometimes they are listed on Classmates.com under their maiden names and I can see there if I know them. But it sure makes it easier to accept a friend request if you don't need to go to all that trouble.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 08, 2009:
Thanks for these tips. I am rather new to Facebook and am still in the learning process. Even the photos of old friends from many years ago may not be a help as they have changed. Ha! One person used her high school photo on Facebook and I immediately knew who she was. Her married name would not have been a clue.