As ancestry websites, DNA websites and long lost family TV shows become ever more popular, more and more people want to know where they have come from and if there’s more family out there, then they want to find them. It could be due to distance, time, or just growing apart, but every family has long lost relatives – and today more and more people wish to reconnect with them. It’s not even just about family; it could be people looking for their first love or their best friend from school. The fact is that anything seems possible these days and if there’s someone on your mind you want to find then you may as well go for it.
Technology and social media has made finding people so much easier and more accessible, but really how easy is it and is it possible to find someone online? Take a look at these steps if this is something you’re interested in and have started looking into as it’s definitely possible to make a start on your own and online if not find the person and do the whole thing all by yourself.
Create A List
Begin by creating a list of all the essential information that you know about the person you are trying to track down. Don’t skip this step as it’s very important and if you go straight into searching then you could likely miss something. Like anything, it’s vital to prepare, as the saying goes, ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ and it is very true in this scenario. By not writing down all the information you need, not only might you miss something but it could completely derail you, put you off, mislead you completely and end in not finding them at all. You’ll need to include more than just their first and last name too. Write down information such as where they went to high school if you have any previous phone numbers and addresses and vehicles they might have owned, whatever you can think of to build a bigger picture. This kind of information can be really beneficial to your search later down the line. Also, make sure that all this information is correct, there is no point going down one route on some false information as it will waste your time and could put you off the search.
Use Search Engines
Search engines really are an excellent way to find the information you’re searching for quickly. However, don’t just rely on one. They are all different and will give you different results. Each search engine uses a separate database and search algorithm, and this will affect what information is returned. You should never rely on just one search engine – private investigators search multiple search engines to find information and obtain the best results.
Try Google, Bing, Yahoo, AOL, Duck Duck Go. Also, Metasearch engines are an excellent way to search multiple search engines at the same time. Instead of using crawlers to index the web like Google and others do, they send queries to a variety of search engines, combine the results. Here are a few examples of meta search engines that best for finding people: Dogpile, WebCrawler and Monster Crawler. If you’re not comfortable with the technology and these terms, then get someone to help you. Even if you go and use one of the computers at your local library, a librarian will likely be on hand to assist can help you find these particular search engines or websites.
Advanced Search Techniques
There are also advanced search operators which use things like Boolean logic to help you filter out the junk that isn’t related to your search. They allow you to combine words and connectors to exclude specific results, for example, if you search for “John Smith” then search engines will return results with all web data with the words ‘John’ and ‘Smith.’ It is highly unlikely that this will be what you want, so, by using ”Not” or “–“ before a term, your search will exclude web pages that contain those terms. For example, a typical search would look something like this:
“John Smith” and New Zealand or + John + Smith + New Zealand.
Have a look at Google’s extensive list of operators and other tips and tricks which will help make your searches more powerful on their advanced search page. Other search engines will have their own specific operators too, so be sure to look them up before you start using them.
Use Social Media
Lots of people have found people who they have been searching for on social media networks since they became so popular. They are the perfect place to start looking for someone online – especially family members that have fallen out of touch. Starting with Facebook, this is the most significant and most extensive search engine by far. You can search for people using names, locations, and even groups. Then there is Linkedin, another great place to look for people, especially if you know the person’s employment history or where they might currently be living. There are other websites dedicated to searching for people such as People finder UK, so it’s worth having a look on there too.
Search Genealogy Sites and Resources
These have become increasingly popular over recent years and with that are getting smarter and have more information and data each day. By doing a little bit of research into your genealogy, you might discover family members you had no idea existed which means that this research can often point you in the right direction if you’re stuck elsewhere. Take a look at Access Genealogy, which includes old letters, Native American historical records, and military documents; The Olive Tree which is a private researcher’s collection of links and other resources that are incredibly useful and in-depth; Family Tree Searcher – The Family Tree Searcher is yet another website that was created by a private researcher to educate and assist amateurs. The interactive quizzes that ensure your search is customized for your particular search are a tremendous help; Genealogy Today is a website has an impressive searchable collection of traditional and unorthodox historical records; Cyndi’s List has 332,340 genealogy links that you can access; RootsWeb is part of the Ancestry.com family, RootsWeb is a massive, community maintained database of US genealogy records searchable by first and last name, created by thousands of genealogists; and US GenWeb Project is the U.S. Genealogy Researchers website was created by a collection of history and genealogy enthusiasts to share resources and educate the public about genealogy and ancestry research.
Finally, You Could Hire a Private Investigator
If you have the money and the resource, then go for it. This is what Private Investigators do for a living. If you give an investigator all the information you have, they can conduct the entire search for you. With access to information that you won’t be able to access as a civilian such as vehicle registrations, private investigators are incredibly skilled at uncovering information and can do it quickly and efficiently.
Whether someone has gone missing or you’re looking for someone you’ve never even met before, it can be tough. You need to prepare yourself for the fact that you may not find them, there could be great leads which draw dead ends, or sometimes people just do not want to be found. Looking for someone is a big deal and something you should consider carefully before getting into.
Take It Slowly
If you do find the person you are looking for, then it is best to take things slowly. Don’t make your first connection a rushed story about what may have been a scandal at the time it occurred. Be friendly, take your time, offer them your contact information, and let them know you would like to keep in touch.
Don’t Get Your Hopes Up
Don’t get your hopes too high about how the meeting will go, be prepared for things to go differently than you expected as it is possible that the long lost relative will not want to get to know you at all and that can hurt, especially in situations involving adoption and biological parents. They might come round, do remember that it’s likely you’re dropping a bombshell on them and they won’t be prepared. You have had time to accept the news and prepare, so allow them to have that too.
There is also the possibility that the discovery of a long lost relative could result in drama. Other relatives may become emotional, and they might refuse to accept the new person as part of their family tree. Or, they may welcome that person with open arms. Every family has its own internal structure, and a new person could shake things up.
Just be aware of all the possibilities and eventualities and take the time to prepare yourself for whatever may occur, but fingers crossed it will be a positive experience for everyone.
Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post