Perhaps you are getting ready to plan a family reunion or other type of event, but don't know how to find your long lost cousin earl or aunt sally so you can invite them. Why wait til summer, when you can put these cold winter months to good use and try to track them down online!
The best place to start?
I recommend starting your people search by signing in at Facebook.com, Myspace.com, classmates.com, and other popular social networking websites. Do a search for your relatives, and see if you can find them easily. If so, offer up a thanks to the Internet and get back in touch.
Unfortunately, it's not always that easy.
If you find several different pages of results for the name, and one or more doesn't have a picture, here's the general idea:
scroll through all of the results and see if the people with pictures are the person you're seeking.
If not, take a second look at the list, this time looking more closely at those with no pictures, to see if you recognize them in the details - a mutual friend on their friends list, or perhaps you'll find that they've become a fan or friend of the restaurant you used to meet at every tuesday afternoon at 1pm.
If you can't find this type of helpful information in any of the profiles, and there are only a couple of results that you're unsure of, it doesn't hurt to send a quick message to a few of them.
Remember to state any other names (maiden name, married name, siblings, etc) that they might have known you by; State any other names you knew them by; thank them for their time, and wait for a reply.
Don't be offended if you don't hear back right away - many people only signed up because someone talked them into it initially, and they may not have been back to their profile in ages.
Next, go to Google. com type in their name and see what you come up with. In most cases, you'll get gazillions of results, none of them what you wanted. You just need to know how to ask!
If you go to Google.com and search for john doe, you'll get way too many results to find the one you're looking for, in most cases. Instead, search for "john doe" with quotation marks around it, or or john+doe+chicago with plus signs instead of spaces. Keep it simple - by using the quotations, you're telling google to look for that exact phrase, letter for letter, no ifs, ands or buts. if your search criteria is too strict, and you add quotation marks around it, you likely won't get any results at all. On the other hand, when using + signs, you're searching for john AND doe in one page, but even if nothing matches exactly, you'll still see some results.
Remember, even if you can't find them the first time, that doesn't mean they're not out there, or that they won't be some time in the future. If you try again every 3-6 weeks, eventually, you may just find them!
If you don't, why not give Family Heritage Consulting a try? Ron Kolb is a professional Genealogy Researcher, whose skills can be just as valuable for finding the living!
Above all, Good Luck with your search!
Jessica Franke is the owner of Green Web Design, a full service Website Design, Web Hosting, Domain Registrar, and Online Marketing firm. She is also the owner of 50 States Classifieds, and has been providing Free Classifieds online since 2002. For more articles written by Jessica Franke, visit her blog.