Let’s cut to the chase. There’s way too much junk on the Internet to waste your time with. Most of us just want to find the person we’re looking for, fast, cheap and dirty.
So this blog is all about the low hanging fruit. And it only includes free resources, many of which allow you to search for someone based on their college, high school or even grade school education. Some will even list your classmate by maiden name, and then provide you with their new surname. So let’s get started!
With Facebook it’s best to keep it simple as their search functions change with the wind. Obviously you can always start with a typical name search and see what comes up. This works best for rare names but it’s not so effective for common names like Joan Smith.
If you want a tried and true way to find your old friends, try searching with an old email or phone number. Or look for your school’s alumni association which may include posts from other people you know. Simply log into your FB account and go to Facebook Groups. From there, type in the name of your school. This may lead you to an alumni directory or to a list of school reunions.
You can also search based on the person’s city, education or work. Simply type their name into the Facebook search box, and hit enter. Then click on People and select one of the following. (selecting all three will likely weed out the person you’re looking for).
Or you can Search for common names and see if they are friends of your school or work friends. For example, in the Facebook search box type in your friend John Smith, hit enter and then People just as before. But this time, go to Friends of Friends and move the toggle to the right.
Note: don’t put in their City or Education or Work unless you get too many hits. Filling in too much will do more harm than good. For example: I found dormmate Peter Merante from SUNY Binghamton as a friend of a friend. But when I used the education filter to list our alma mater, suddenly his name disappeared! So start out with less and you can always add filters in later.
Facebook: Find Someone Without Their Last Name
Here’s how to find someone when you don’t know their last name or can’t spell it? First, go back into Facebook -> type the first name in search -> click on filter “People” -> under people you’ll see more filters: friends of friends, location (city), education and work. Try different filters and don’t overlook the “friends of friends” filter: it just might get you the person you’re looking for!
As stated above, don’t use too many filters at once. For example, you can search by education or education and friends of friends. But don’t try education and work all at once. For if you do, you may miss the person who never included all this in their profile.
Still stuck? Well in that case, use the power of Google to search within Facebook and totally bypass the Facebook search engine, which may otherwise require their surname.
For example: say you’re looking for your old friend Teresa _______ from Cathedral School in Havana Cuba? If you tried this search in the Facebook search box, , you would never get anywhere without her last name. But Google is far more forgiving.
To bypass this requirement and still find her in Facebook, go to the Google search box, and type in her first name, the school in quotes, and the city where the school is located. You’ll also want to add the website for Google to search in. See the format below:
Still too many hits? Then add a year like this:
Teresa “Cathedral School” “havana” 1951 site:facebook.com
What? Your friend’s name is Julie not Teresa? And she never lived in Cuba but went to Stuyvesant High School in New York?
Fine, simply click on the green link above, and once in the Google search box, change the name, change the school and city, but leave all the rest alone. Of course this will work even better if you have a full name.
As for Facebook, don’t immediately discard the hits that show people who graduated a few years before or after your childhood friend did. CHECK THEIR FRIEND’S LIST for people you may know. If you find someone from your grade, check that person’s friend’s list as well. You might find more leads or even the person you’re looking for!
Use Classmates.com To Find Their New Surname (Good for high school and college)
If you’re looking for old classmates who may have married, remarried or divorced, you can’t afford to ignore the free sign-up at classmates.com.
Like Facebook, Classmates often lists women by both their maiden and married names. This is invaluable, for with their new name you can always Google it or use the age and relative lookup sites to find where they currently live. From there you can look up their name in the property records to confirm their address.
For easy to read tips on how to search for people in classmates.com, checkout their page on Classmates search for people and schools.
Note that Classmates will also list the year they graduated or at least the year when they attended the school, so finding the right Carol Smith should be easy. By the way, if you’re not sure how to spell their last name, type it in Google first. Sometimes, Google will correct the spelling based on the records in its own database.
Three Easy Ways To Search on Classmates.com: The Low Hanging Fruit
1.Tamar Kummel (rare name, no school needed)
2. Graham Firestone New York (name and state, no school)
3. Elissa Liebman Trinity (old last name and school reveals her new surname!)
LinkedIn (Works best for colleges & graduate school)
Using Google to search within the LinkedIn website missed a lot. So it’s best to do their free sign up and enter your query in the LinkedIn search box.
You can search with quotes, and if there are too many hits, just add their school. For example: “John Tilden” Binghamton
Use LinkedIn Filters for School, Prior Jobs and City or Country
Or once in the LinkedIn search box, simply enter their name in quotes, click enter and select PEOPLE. Then choose ALL FILTERS, scroll down the page and click on the school you recognize. You can even add a school! When done, Click on SHOW RESULTS.
No hits? Then hit the RESET button, go back to ALL FILTERS and search instead based on prior jobs and location. For example you can select the country or city, or even add your own city where you’re looking for them. Then scroll down to “Past Company.”If you don’t see the company, LinkedIn allows you to start typing the company. LinkedIn will fill in the rest!
Other Places To Find People
Last but not least is Google. Don’t forget to Google the name of your school with the words alumni directory. More than likely, your school already has an alumni directory or lists your old friend as being married, having a baby or winning an award, etc.
Google Searches for Classmates Based on School
So if a name search won’t get you the results you need, here’s how to search for your school’s alumni directory, alumni association or class reunions.
Graham Firestone Harvard
Harvard alumni directory 1987
Harvard reunion 1987
Harvard alumni association
Other Blogs To Help You Find Alumni and Old Classmates
- Women & Surnames
- Cell Phone #s, Emails & Physical Addresses
- Reverse Searches (Using old emails, addresses and phone #s)
- Name Searches
- Employment History, Salaries & Professional Licenses