Our ward Family History Specialist, Rebecca Nichols, was kind enough to seek me out and help answer some of the many questions I had about trying to do collateral family history work. She is amazing and taught me a lot in just the half hour of Sunday School.
Start with a prayer! I know that we had the following success because we humbly asked for our Heavenly Father's help! He is so willing to help if we let Him! (He's the other "Specialist" I'm referring to :))
If you search on Family Tree, the results are only people who are linked to other people's family tree. (Ding! Didn't understand that before.)
If you search on Family Search, the results include all people who have been indexed but not necessarily linked to their family yet. (Ooh. Another Ding!!)
Search for a person several times and with different info. (Ex start broad and then narrow down by parents, birthplace, etc.) (We did this with Mads Sorensen and finally found him on Family Search by searching with LESS info (less narrow) and found the source of his imputed info which was a baptismal record not of our church)
Even though I'm looking for Mads Sorensen's (potential) wife, first find him on Family Search. It may give clues to find her. If there's no clues, back up one generation and find info on the parents. (Have yet to really try)
In Family Search, a mother (for example) may be listed several times because she is listed once for every child. They aren't necessarily duplicates. (Ding!!! Cleared up a lot of what seemed to look so confusing at first.)
Starting out a search (with Mads Sorensen, for example), search for any duplicate Mads Sorensens. Maybe they're the same person and one has the info you were looking for. That being said, be extremely sure it is a duplicate before merging people. (What a bummer if they were truly separate people and one hasn't had their temple work done yet, for (another) example! Yikes.)
Tell the source where you found an individual and link the source to that individual. (Can't remember the term for that right now) (We did this with Mads Sorensen's baptismal record)
Keep a log of where and what you have searched. Helps not do double work; helps you see any possible patterns of where you're finding information!
Have a few internet tabs open in Family Search so you can switch easily between pages.
If you have any questions about doing family history, call or talk to Rebecca Nichols!
Just in our little efforts in the little time we had, the spirit was there and was so encouraging!!! It's SUCH an important work to be involved in!!!