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In article about tracking down a colleague, a Polaroid of friends

Need to catch up with somebody you used to know?

Back in the day, finding old college colleagues was nothing short of impossible. Options were few and far between, and they normally involved publishing an ad in the paper or manually sifting through phone directories. In some cases, a reunion party or hiring a private eye was your only hope.

Google, social networks and different specialized platforms have made it easier to find people online. What’s more, doing this type of research is now completely free, and you can proceed with it on your own. Here are some effective ways to help you find an old colleague from college.

Look for an Image on Google

The search giant’s reverse image search can be useful in helping you find people. If you have a photo of your college buddy, it can yield results for you. The search function looks for similar images online and generates links to the sites where the images have been uploaded. This way, you’ll be one step closer to your target outcome.

If their name is unusual, you might find them by looking it up. However, you may need one or more additional keywords if they have a common name. Possible search terms include names of their spouse, your college buddy’s job, their interests or any of their hobbies. If you happen to have all this information, you can use keyword variations for the best possible outcome.

Social Networks

Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram are also rich sources of information. Facebook is a good place to start, even though private profiles won’t show up in a search. With so many users, it’s hard not to find at least some additional information. Type your college colleague’s name in the top search bar and scroll down for the best match or most promising matches. Pay more attention to the images than to the names.

Make sure you try any aliases or nicknames apart from their real name. On all social networks, look up terms or words you associate with the person. On Facebook, you can click on “People” in the top menu to narrow down your search. This will customize the search by mutual friends, location, job or education.

Alumni Organizations

An example of a helpful organization is alumni.net, which has several million users worldwide and has been live for almost 20 years. You’re likely to find your old college buddy on this site. It’s free to register on this site, and the registration process only requires a few simple steps. Searching for and joining an organization is the last step. This can be a school, a university, a college, a company or another organization.

It’s possible to specify your search by city, state or country. Whatever you search for, the list of results will be quite long. Instead of entering the name of an organization, you can look for a term or concept specific to it. If the name of your college is relatively common, doing this is a very reasonable idea.

Once you’ve registered on this or another alumni site, you can search for anyone by their name. Look for maiden names or given names as well. Your colleague might have changed their name after marriage.

Alumni-related websites consider that you might be urgently trying to contact your old college buddy. You can post messages on bulletin boards in an effort to find them more quickly, and some users of the site might respond.

People Finders

The background check industry is in its heyday with dozens of search services to choose from. Try more than one because each will reveal different details, which you can piece together to form a more complete picture.

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