The Internet saves effort, time and money when tracking down long lost relatives. There are many websites that specialise in tracking down family members, genealogy and family trees. In addition family members may also be located using search engines, social networks and Internet message boards. Before the Internet tracking down family and tracing roots was a very costly process that could take months. Now that process can be done very quickly for a fraction of the cost.
Use the search engines. If the name of the distant relative is known then look for that name using search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing. Looking through all the results can be very time consuming, especially when dealing with a common name. If the person's city or state is known, use the city or state in conjunction with the name to filter search engine results. The advantage of this method is that it is free.
Check the social networks. Search for the distant relative on MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and other networks. This method is also free and has the added advantage of allowing the searcher to see photos of prospective family members, via the profile pictures of the people found in the search results.
Subscribe to the services of sites like ancestry.com, yourfamily.com, usfreeads.com, ancestorhunt.com. Many of these sites have indexed birth records, personal addresses and created large databases that are specifically for the purpose of connecting relatives.
Hire a genealogist, search for a genealogist in your area and research which ones seem the most effective. Look for the methods the genealogist uses, what they charge and how their fee structure works (when do they get paid).