Lifestyle

Rekindling lost connections: how to find old friends

The digital age means it’s never been easier to reach out and reconnect with the people who have left a mark on our lives. Here’s how to reconnect and find old buddies.

By Carolyn Tate

Life has a funny way of whizzing by while we’re busy, pulling us in different directions and causing us to lose touch with friends and family along the way. But just because time has passed doesn't mean someone has to be lost forever.

Whether it's an old school mate, a colleague from a former job, or a childhood neighbour, reigniting those relationships can bring a sense of joy and nostalgia to our lives. 

Finding them doesn’t have to be difficult - and you may find they’re thrilled to know you still think of them. 

So, if you're ready to take a trip down memory lane and reconnect with old friends, here are a few options to consider.

Option 1: Social media

Social media platforms have made it easier than ever to reconnect with people from our past. Sites like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn provide a way to search for old friends with just a few clicks.

Start by searching for the names of your old friends on these platforms. 

You might be surprised to find that many of them have active profiles waiting to be rediscovered. 

You might have a lot of results, depending on your friend’s name, but you can filter your search results to narrow down your results. 

While some people may have changed their surname - if they got married, for instance - many people still share their maiden name as well, so you may still be able to find them.

Facebook also provides groups that might help you to find people, such as an alumni group for your high school, interest groups (if your friend was an avid fisherman or quilter for instance), or groups such as Searching For Lost Friends and Family,

Option 2: Australian electoral rolls

If social media doesn’t help, or it isn't your preferred method of reconnecting, consider using the Australian electoral rolls to track down your old friends. 

The Australian Electoral Commission maintains a database of registered voters, which can be accessed through your local Australian Electoral Commission office.

In some circumstances, the National Library of Australia may be able to help you to research old electoral records. 

To search the electoral rolls, you'll need to know the full name and approximate age of the person you're looking for. From there, you can narrow down your search by state or territory.

This method takes a bit more effort than a quick social media search, but it can be a valuable tool for finding old friends who may not be active on social media. People also use it when researching family histories.

Option 3: White Pages

Remember the White Pages? While it’s not as commonly used as it once was, the White Pages can still be a useful resource for locating people who may not be active online.

Start by visiting the White Pages website and entering the person's name and initial, and your best guess at their location. If you’re unsure of the exact suburb, you can do a national search or enter a postcode, region or state. If you leave this location field blank, the White Pages will search nationally for them.

From there, you can browse through the listings to see if you can find a match. 

It’s not a perfect solution, though - not everyone will be listed in the White Pages, especially if they have an unlisted phone number, have recently moved or no longer have a landline.

Workplace or volunteer organisation

If you know where your friend used to work, contacting their former workplace could help you gather information about their current whereabouts. This is also true for any volunteer organisations they may have been involved in. Human resources departments, colleagues, or volunteer networks might be able to assist in your search.

Alumni and professional associations

Many schools, colleges, and universities have alumni associations or networks, and many organisations organise reunions, maintain directories, or have online platforms where alumni can reconnect. Or, if you know the profession your friend was involved in, you might have success with any relevant professional association they may have been associated with. 

Mutual acquaintances

If you can find them, reach out to any mutual acquaintances, friends, or relatives who might have stayed in touch with your lost friend. They could provide valuable information that can help track them down, or they may even help to facilitate a reunion.

Google

It may seem obvious, but don’t underestimate the power of a good old search engine. Whether your friend has won a local citizenship award, been recognised for their contribution at work, or even had their picture taken at a social event, they could be hiding in plain sight right here on the internet. Google your friend’s name and details such as their last known location or their profession could reap results in less than five seconds.

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