So you have the results back, what next?
Click on "Family & Friends" at top of the 23andMe home page. This will take you to a page called "DNA Relatives" which is a pretty cool list of all the people who have a match with you on one or more DNA segments sorted by predicted relationship.
Some people have made their profiles public so you can see what they have written about their family, their surnames, their family locations and a primitive family tree. However, most people in the list have not made their information public to 23andMe members and even those who have, often do not have much information listed. It is not possible to compare DNA results with any of your cousins until they agree to share genomes with you.
If you have a "Public Match", click on the cousin's name then click on the link "Invite (cousin name) to share genomes". I like to then click on "Customize Message" and include some of my family information. If it is not a public match, then click on the link next to the name "Send an Introduction". This will format a message for you and I suggest you also add some of your family information. Be sure to click on the button labeled "Share my name and profile and also extend an invitation to share genomes at Basic Level" so that the genome invitation is also sent.
This is quite a tedious process as I had over a 1000 matches and had to send an introduction each one individually and each invitation was either accepted, declined or ignored. Every time I get an invitation declined, it hurts my feelings just a little bit but making contact with new cousins is so rewarding. Statistically, 1 in 4 invitations are accepted, very few declined and the rest are pending.
An invitation is accepted, what now?
Select "My Results" from the top of the 23andMe home page. Select "Ancestry Tools" then select "Family Inheritance: Advanced". This tool will let you compare your DNA results to any of your cousins with whom you are sharing genomes and also compare their results with each other.
Select the cousin for comparison and click "Compare". This will show a pretty cool graph of how you match up to 3 cousins on each chromosome. You can then select "View in a table" or "Download a table" of the results:
|Comparison||Chromosome||Start point||End point||Genetic distance||# SNPs|
|Rebecca vs. Shari||17||49000000||54000000||6.1 cM||1183|
|Rebecca vs. L||3||1||10000000||25.0 cM||3254|
|Rebecca vs. L||3||183000000||188000000||9.1 cM||1187|
|Rebecca vs. L||9||1||12000000||26.3 cM||4424|
|Rebecca vs. Eileen||3||182000000||188000000||10.2 cM||1392|
|Rebecca vs. Eileen||8||1||4000000||10.8 cM||2005|
|Rebecca vs. Eileen||11||88000000||102000000||13.5 cM||3226|
What do I do with the matching data?
The easy answer is to find your most recent common ancestor with each cousin but it is easier said than done. This is the part where all of the old fashion family research that you have compiled over the years comes into play. Make contact with your cousins matching on each segment and try to find out how you are related.
One thing to keep in mind is that 23andMe does not know if the DNA segment on which you match is from your maternal or paternal side of the family so if you make a comparison between cousins and they match each other on the same segment that they match you then it is likely that they belong to the same side of your family.
It is very rewarding to find out that this little snippet of DNA is associated with a remote ancestor and makes me feel connected to my family however remote.