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How to Reconnect With Your Past Classmates

Looking for your high school sweetheart? Trying to find a former coworker? While there are numerous social networking websites offering specific searchable databases, Classmates.com stands above the rest as the most comprehensive and user friendly reunion site in the United States and Canada. Not only does Classmates.com reunite former classmates, the site is also building workplace and military databases, and has over 40 million active members.

Classmates.com was founded in 1995 by Randy Conrads, a former Boeing corporate manager from Renton, WA. He was trying to find former school friends and had become frustrated by the lack of available information on the Internet. But, rather than set up a free search engine and funding it by selling advertising, Conrads decided to charge a membership fee for premium memberships. Many critics thought he was crazy and that his idea would surely fail. But, while many other Internet start-up companies crashed and burned in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Classmates.com flourished and remained profitable. In 2004, Conrads sold his successful business, Classmates Inc. for a reported $100 million dollars.

Ready to get started? Classmates.com operates on a simple premise and is very user friendly. The site walks the user through the process in a succession of simple steps. Here’s a step-by-step guide to getting started:

1. Open Classmates.com. The homepage lists all 50 states.
2. Click on the state in which your school or employer is located. A new page opens from which you select the name of the city or town.
3. Click on the letter that represents the city or town. A list of all the cities and towns will be displayed.
4. Click on your town or city. A list of schools will be displayed. If there are no schools listed, a link will be displayed (If you don't see your school listed, you can search for it now). Click on the link. A new page will open with a search window in which you can enter the name of the school you wish to search.
5. Enter the name of the school and use the drop-down menu to select the state.
6. Click “Search.” All matches will be displayed. If your school is listed, click on the link. If you school is not listed, click on “Advanced Search” to try again.
7. When you have identified your school, click on the link. A registration page will open. Enter all identifying information and then click “Submit.” A secure page will open offering you the option of either a premium, paid membership or a free membership. Initially, most people choose the free membership.
8. To become a free member, click on “Not sure you're ready? Visit Classmates.com as a free member.” Look in the upper left corner for “My Communities.” Your school should be listed in that window.
9. Click on the school name. A new window will open showing all of your classmates who have registered.
10. To view information about a former classmate, click on his or her name. A profile will be displayed offering basic information. In order to view all the information, you must be a premium member.
Although free members have limited access to information, Classmates.com does offer enough free information to allow the user to do a more extensive search on another people search engine such as Zaba.com. The premium membership enables the user to send messages to other classmates and view full profiles, post photos, arrange reunions, and form private groups. Free members can access the message center to read discussions but are not able to participate in the discussion.

To find former classmates from your school, click the “Search” tab at the top of the page. A window will open where you can enter the first and last name of the person. All persons currently in the Classmates’ database who match the search criteria will be displayed. This list not only includes people from your school, but everyone in the database. Click on the name of the person, and his or her profile information will be displayed. Individuals who have changed their names are shown with their current last name first, and former last name in parentheses - FirstName LastName (FormerLastName).

Once you have set up your first account, you can add new communities to your profile. Classmates.com has a comprehensive database containing elementary schools, middle or junior high schools, high schools, colleges and universities, and work places. You can even search from people from your kindergarten! To search for additional communities click on the “add more communities” link in the “My Communities” window. A new page will open from which you can select “Add a College,” “Add a Work Place,” “Add a Military Assignment,” and “Add a School.” Click on the link that represents the community you wish to add. Follow the same process you used to perform your first search.

Classmates.com is more than just a search engine. The site has been responsible for reuniting millions of people in the U.S. and Canada, and facilitating class and business reunions. It has also been a success where others have failed, and continues to thrive after over ten years on the Internet.

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