Although years have gone by, maybe even decades, you just can’t forget about that childhood friend. The nagging sense of nostalgia just won’t go away. You eventually start looking for them online.
You need to remember as much information about them as possible, and given how long ago it was, that might not be easy. Still, making an effort is essential because, without details to go on, the person will be impossible to find.
Think back to where and when you were together and any mutual friends you had. Compile everything you can remember in writing.
The bare minimum
As a bare minimum, you need their first and last name and their middle name if they have a common one like Jane Smith. You also need the year of birth or at least their approximate age.
Other helpful information:
· Place of birth
· Schools attended
· Years of attendance
· Last known location
· Their parents’ or siblings’ names
· The names of mutual friends and acquaintances
Take your efforts to the internet
There are dozens of so-called people search sites with varying degrees of effectiveness. New ones often emerge while others fail to stand the test of time. Sites that were popular in the past don’t maintain current records. This is where Google or another search engine can help. Google searches social media sites and news entries, phone directory information, etc., making it the best place to start.
You don’t have to use Google, of course. Many people prefer different search engines that aren’t so abundant in information, which they need to sift through later. What’s more, not all search engines are good at accessing social networks. Ideally, try more than one.
Enter their first and last name and press “Enter” or the “Search” button, then wait for a list of results. Scroll through the list and check if anything connected to your childhood friend comes up.
How to do an in-depth search
While you might get lucky with this, a name alone usually isn’t enough to find people online, particularly if their name is common. Include other information to narrow the results down, like their place of birth, your school, etc.
Enter the first and last name in quotation marks so they stay together as a search term, then add other details. Your search terms will then look like this:
“Jim Brown” Albany, NY
“Jill Johnson” East Side Elementary School, NY
Background check sites
If the search engine yields nothing, try a background check site. Dozens of these services exist and specialize in personal data. They source information about people from public records, Google, and social media and can save you a lot of time. The best ones are not free, but you might find it a price worth paying.
Track them down on Facebook
As Facebook lets people search for and record information about old schools, you might find success here. If your friend used their real name and added a school you both went to or the place where you two grew up, finding them should be a piece of cake. You probably wouldn’t recognize them by a current photo. If you make contact, personalize your message, so they’ll know it’s you.
Facebook is very good at locating people in general. It compiles information about your friends as well as your details automatically. This helps connect you to people you might know.
Get in touch with mutual acquaintances
Don’t lose hope if your Facebook search yielded nothing. There are still avenues to explore. Try to get in touch with people you both know. If you have a parent or friend’s contact information, use it to try and find your friend. Tell them you’re trying to track down Jill Johnson, with whom you went to school as kids. Be polite and hope for the best.
Once you have some contact details for someone you think might be your friend, try to get in touch. It can be a social network account, a phone number, or an email address. It’s normal to feel nervous at this point. Finding people online is becoming increasingly common. Your friend could have been hoping you’d find her.
As you might have the wrong person, your first message should be short and to the point. An example contact message might be:
“Hi, this is Rita Thomas from Albany. Is this the same Jill Johnson who went to East Side Elementary in the late 1990s? If so, please write back; I would love to catch up!”
You can deliver a similar message if you have a phone number that might be theirs.