Online Personals Strategy: How to Click

By Lisa Daily

Meeting online has its perks.

You can go man-shopping at 3 am in your jammies. You can search out someone who shares your adoration of Graham Norton, trashy tabloids or argyle socks. And, thanks to your most fabulous date-ready photo, you can do it all looking your best, 24 hours a day.

Every day I get letters from my fabulous readers asking about Internet dating. Does it really work?

Sure it does. Of course there's always a possibility of meeting the Star Trek troll who lives with his mother, or worse, other Star Trek trolls. The prison inmate. The forgot-to-mention- she's-married. But for the most part, online dating is still a great way to meet someone.

Here are a few tips to help you click online:

A Picture's Worth a Thousand Emails.

This is possibly your most important asset in successful online dating. Most people will pass by a profile with no photo - no matter how fabulous it may be. Most people search for profiles with photos only. Dating is all about chemistry, and nobody wants to end up with whoever is behind door number three. Make sure your photo is the best possible picture of you; feel free to crop to get the best shot and pump up the contrast to add a little excitement. (Try it, it adds an extra vaa-vaa-voom to your picture - you'll just pop off the page.) Avoid using pictures of you and other people, even if they're blurred out. The message you're trying to send is fun, sexy or interesting, not "witness protection program." Another good trick - wear red in your photo, or use a red background. It automatically makes you stand out from the crowd and seem more exciting. (Works at a party too...)

The Profile. Showing Your Fun Side.

Your profile is your second most important tool. The key here is to use advertising principles to create immediate interest and action. Here's what you need to create a profile that pulls: A snappy headline, three key points (it's not a resume darling, it's small talk...) and a big finish. (Known to advertising people as a "Call To Action.")

Try to avoid sounding needy or negative.

(It's always best to have a friend desperado-check your profile before you post - especially a friend of the opposite sex.) Avoid bad puns, clichés and pitiful jokes, such as "Go Ahead, Click My Day" or anything that sounds desperate like "Are You Prince Charming?" or "Searching For Soulmate." Funny is good, and frankly, nothing works better than humor to intrigue and bring those eligibles flying into your inbox.

Here are some interesting ones:

"My dog needs a mom."
"Outdoorsman seeking good catch"
"The girl below me is a stalker"

Most people will click on a profile with a funny title just to see what the person says next. And last but not least, SPELLCHECK! The technology is there, sweets, all you have to do is push the button.

Email Suave

Okay, so now you're ready to make contact. Emailing a potential date is like flirting. You want to captivate without giving everything away. Both humor and intrigue are great ways to break the ice, and send those sparks burning over the DSL. Start off your email with something like "I noticed the most interesting thing about you." Don't spill what the interesting thing was, just use it as a teaser. They won't know if it's the Haiku profile or their in-depth knowledge of macramé that snagged you, but people are fundamentally curious. It will gnaw at them until they write back and Bingo, you've got contact.

Once again, it's important to keep your emails snappy - short and charming. Go into too much depth and you'll induce your online Romeo or Juliet to snores. In-depth analysis of your feelings is what therapy is for - this, my darlings, is flirting.

Another tip: don't send a barrage of emails to one person, follow their pace and try to keep up. (If they send 4 a week, you send 4 or so every week.)

Safety First!

Finally, never, NEVER give your personal information out to a stranger, and although in traditional dating settings a man should ALWAYS pick up his date at her door, meeting someone you don't know is a different situation entirely. Always remember to be safe, meet at a public place, and take a friend if you can. Let someone know where you'll be and when you'll be home, and be sure to take your cell phone with you. Always trust your instincts, and if a little voice is telling you something's not right, pay attention and hit the door.

Have faith and be safe - Eventually you'll meet someone fantastic, and you'll just, well, click.

© Copyright 2002, by Lisa Daily. All rights reserved.


Lisa Daily is the author of Stop Getting Dumped! All you need to know to make men fall madly in love with you and marry "The One" in 3 years or less. At book stores everywhere. As seen in/on Cosmopolitan, Men's Health and Ricki Lake Get our FREE dating tips newsletter - chock-full of man-snagging techniques - at www.stopgettingdumped.com