Online Dating and First Contact: Managing Email and Phone

When we post an online dating profile, we do so to excite interest and move the reader of it to contact us. By email, by instant message. In effect, they are self-promotional “marketing” pieces…some shamelessly so. No one likely to be reading this post will be surprised by that observation. There! We’ve just blown the lid of the obvious, someone is sure to be muttering as they read this. But bear with me…I have some dots to connect.

Let’s start by clearing up a misnomer. We don’t date online, as my readers know I’m fond of saying. We MEET online and take it offline as soon as possible, consistent with safety. For most of us, that means email(s) and phone contact, followed by a meeting, if you “click.” This is all stuff anyone involved in online dating should know how to do and do very well. These are predictable, necessary steps on the way to meeting. So it never ceases to amaze me at how many women seem to leave so much of this phase to chance.

What’s in the first email and the first phone call often determine if there will be a second. So if you want to stack the deck in your favor, read on. I’m going to give you one man’s opinion on how to get an edge over your competition. Bear in mind, I’m not talking about every man. I’m talking about men who are interested in something that lasts. In fact, if you do this right, you will limit the number of men only interested in casual relationships…read that relationships of convenience. What follows isn’t bullet proof, but it will definitely help you “up” your game.

Let’s start with your first email to him. Whether you’re responding to him or initiating contact based on his profile, you’re signaling interest and trying to interest him. Two different situations, here.

1. If you’re responding to an email from him, I would take your hint from the tone of his email. Respond to both the email and whatever stands out in his profile essay.

2. If you’re initiating contact, you’re (hopefully) doing so based on something in the profile that caught your eye because it is largely in line with your objectives. A flirtatious/teasing email is your best bet, unless “his” profile has a serious tone.

3. A great first email not only signals and gains interest, it makes the sender stand out for the right reasons. It show that you invested enough time to convey thoughtfulness or cleverness along with it. That investment of time is flattering, even if the email itself does not explicitly flatter. And yes, ladies, they are flattered and it does matter…for all the same reasons it matters to you.

If all goes well via email, the phone is next.

1. If you’re ready to move to that step, don’t wait for him to ask. Put it out there, invite him to call and give him your cellular phone. I have had women do that toward the end of my online meeting experiences and I never declined and never regretted making the call, even if it didn’t work out. Not every woman is comfortable doing this, so if you do it, you immediately stand out…favorably in most men’s minds. That’s a great start, but more and more women are becoming comfortable taking the initiative, so to really stand out, you need to do even more.

2. So here’s where you can really break out of the pack. When you give him your number, give him a best time(s) to call and make it a time when you’re usually available, relaxed and content. You’re trying to avoid him getting voicemail. Knowing when he is most likely to call also helps you in being ready for it when it comes. Have his profile available and a few questions you really want to ask him. They should help you improve on what you know of him, without putting him on the defensive.

3. Pick some things his profile suggests he’s likely to be comfortable with. Be prepared to answer the complementary question, should he ask. Doing this will not only help the conversation flow and put both of you at ease. Don’t feel like you must ask those questions, if the conversation is flowing. Just go with it. The profile and your questions are to give your conversation structure if it doesn’t occur organically. Often just getting both of you started will be all it takes.

What this preparation does is set both of you up for success. It doesn’t guarantee a connection and you shouldn’t draw any immediate conclusions from success if you both have it. What you have done is helped both of you get past that initial awkwardness we all feel the first time we connect with someone new. It may go nowhere, but even if it doesn’t, it won’t feel as awkward the next time and you’ll be that much better when the law of averages catches up with you and everything “clicks.” Whether it results in something enduring or not, you’re improving on your ability to orchestrate smoothness in your initial communications…among the most important skills we can have in online meeting.