A properly-prepared profile will attract emails. It will persuade passing singles to drop you a line and it will give you the chance to pick the best of the bunch and choose the people you want to meet for a date.
But successful online daters don’t just wait for emails to come in. They also use their dating site membership to look for partners themselves. They plough through the profiles, take their pick and send out well-written messages that get responses.
How To Write A First message That Gets Results
Online dating has the great advantage of making your first approach easy. Offline, there’s nothing harder, nothing more nerve-wracking, more difficult or more downright embarrassing than walking up to a complete stranger, letting them know that you find them attractive and trying to strike up that initial conversation.
“It takes the nerves of a lion to cross the room—and skin as thick as a hippo’s to cope with the rejection”.
With online dating though, you don’t have to worry that the person who caught your eye will take one look at you and burst out laughing. There’s no scrabbling around for a way to save face, and no long walk back to face your friends. You don’t even need a chat-up line.
A Quick message
You just need a quick messagel—one short paragraph is plenty—that says “I’m interested. Let’s talk.” As long as that email gets you a reply, it’s done its job.
And the way to ensure that your message does its job is to make sure that it contains a combination of introduction, flattery and interrogation.
What To Say, What To Ask And What Not To Do During Your First Contact
If you meet someone attractive at a party, your first instinct is usually to introduce yourself. You want to walk over, say “Hi, I’m…” and find some way to keep the conversation rolling.
Online, that’s not such a great strategy.
One of the differences between the first approach you have to make in a bar or at a party and the first message you send to someone whose profile you’ve seen on the Web, is that online, the person you’re talking to already knows a little about you.
Remember, you also have a profile on the dating site and the first thing someone does when they get your email is to look at it. They’re going to know what you do for a living, where you live, how much of an education you have and even what kind of movies you like to watch.
That’s the sort of personal information that might take a date or two to discover offline. It would certainly take a conversation or two.
That means you don’t have to repeat it in your first email.
Your first email shouldn’t be considered an introduction. Instead, think of it as an invitation: an invitation to continue chatting, to get to know you, to see whether you have enough compatibility to take it further
You want to create the impression that you’re a fun, interesting person—who’s also genuinely interested in the person you’re writing to.
What Attracted you
That’s why it’s crucial to mention what attracted you on the profile.
It lets the reader know that you want to get to know that person in particular, not just someone in general. Far too many people on dating sites send out the same email to everyone they spot on the Web—and it’s a terrible idea. Canned responses can be spotted a mile away and they’re about as attractive as someone who walks through a party hitting on just about everyone they see.
Let someone know why you’re writing and you’ll increase the chances that they’ll write back.
Opening Email—Type 1: All About You
I saw your profile and just had to write. I love the way you look in your pictures. That’s a great, warm smile and your kids are really cute. The dog’s smile’s a bit strange though; I don’t think saying “cheese” works with dogs. I teach math in a high school just outside Ventura and I’m also into SCUBA diving. I’d love to know more about you. If you’d like to drop me a line, that would be great.
That’s a dead easy email that won’t take you more than a minute to write.
It’s short, and you don’t want your email to be long. No one will want to read a huge message sent by someone they don’t yet know, and emails that go on for page after page just appear scary. They make you look far too intense and demanding for a first approach. When you’re trying to attract someone’s attention for the first time, less is more.
But this email is also a little bit flattering. It starts by explaining why you’re writing (because you saw their picture and were captivated), and then picks out a couple of points in the profile that caught your eye. That shows not just that you read the profile; it also lets you point out that you have something in common.
And finally, it includes a touch of humor.
That’s important because you don’t want you first email too look too serious or formal. Dating is supposed to be fun. You’re not writing a cover letter for a job application. Your letter should reflect something of your personality and the way you talk.
Just relax, try not to worry about the format of the email and let the real you flow out.
To write an email like this, all you need is a reason for writing (and if you don’t want to focus on the photo, you can always pick out their taste in music, their occupation or just about anything else on the profile) and one or two things that you can hold a conversation about. That could be family life, sporting choice or anything else.
The biggest strength of emails like this is that they already emphasize that you can do things together and have fun together. On the other hand they don’t force the reader to respond. If the person you’re writing to looks at your profile and is less than curious, impressed or blown away, there’s still a chance that they won’t write back.
Opening Email—Type 2: Who Are You?
My name is Bobbie, and after seeing your picture, I just had to write. I know what you mean about diving letting you feel like you’re flying. Kind of strange, huh? You go underwater with a big heavy tank and as soon as you’re down there you’re completely weightless. It’s total freedom. I love it. I have some favorite spots out near the islands where you can get right into the kelp and watch the dolphins. Where do you like to dive, and how do you find the time between kids and school? I find I rarely have time to breathe! Write back, and tell me about yourself!
This kind of email makes one important addition to the previous one: it asks questions.
Again, you can begin by introducing yourself, explain why you’re writing and pick out one or two points on the profile. But by asking questions about those points, you turn the email into a conversation. You make it easy for the person to write back—instead of having to think of something to say, they can start by answering your questions—and you even make it rude for them not to.
The easiest types of question to ask are those that refer back to the profile. If someone wrote that they like walking on redwood trails, you can ask them where else they like to go hiking. If they say they like visiting the Met, you can ask which is their favorite section. If they say they like photography, you can ask what they take pictures of.
You know that what you’re asking about is a subject that they enjoy so if you can show that you can hold a conversation about it, you’re already onto a winner. It’s a good sign that when you meet in person you’re going to be able to talk in comfort.
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