10 Ways to Search People and Find Them

by Ruud Hein April 12th, 2007 

Last month I found a friend back. We had lost touch and before you know it there is no way to contact that person.

One evening you chat with some good friends when you suddenly think "what ever happened to…".

Enter search engines.

Finding lost friends, looking for a distant family member, searching for people you know or knew; it can be very easy with search engines.

  1. Search for their exact name
    Put it between quotes to make search engines stick the words together. Example: "john doe"
  2. City, place of birth, state, etc.
    Be specific. Even if the person has moved to another place or country, they might talk about these places of the past on blogs or forums.
    Example: "john doe" +Toronto
  3. Nickname
    People often stick to the same nickname. Current and past nicknames are often discussed and explained on blogs and forums. Works best with just first name + nickname.
    Example: john +"sep guy"
  4. Schools
    Where did he go to school? College? University? This type of search can bring up references from the past by your lost friend and references to your friend by others who knew or know him. One of those people might still be in contact with him.
  5. Clubs, bands
    Same as with schools and nicknames: this is something we tend to talk about later on in life. Was he in a metal band? Search for: john +"frozen vomit". Did he join a sport club? Search for: john +"judo throwers Toronto".
    If you get no hits, remove his name. See if someone mentions that band or club. Maybe you get lucky!
  6. Preferred activity
    What did this person love to do? They might still talk about it today. Example: john +"bird watching". Or: "john doe" +"bird watching". Etc.
  7. Who did they know
    Which names is this person likely to drop, likely to talk about? "Kelly and I always….", "When I was young I was in love with…", "My best bud….", etc.
    Example: john +friend
  8. Profession or What do they know
    What is his profession? Then or now? What might be his profession now?
    Example: "john doe" +seo. Or: "john doe" +"car repair"
  9. Forums
    Many people at one time or another will register on a forum. Even if they don't post their profile will be there. Use combinations of name and nickname to search.
    Example: "john doe" +forum. Or: nickname +forum. Or: john nickname +forum.
  10. Scour social sites and directories
    Search on social sites like FaceBook and Twitter. Use member directories such as the MSN Spaces / Hotmail one.
Ruud Hein

My paid passion at Search Engine People sees me applying my passions and knowledge to a wide array of problems, ones I usually experience as challenges. People who know me know I love coffee.

Ruud Hein

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One Response to “10 Ways to Search People and Find Them”

  1. David says:

    Great list, but if you come up dry in a people search, there are a TON of other resources out there. Especially important is searching news stories (which are separate from a regular Google search), and looking through public records.

    I do a lot of professional people-search myself, and put together some of my best tips and tools here, in case anyone's interested:

    http://www.ehow.com/how_4497543_find-people-online.html
    How to Find People Online

    Hope it helps.

    David