Hits & Mrs: Date Like It’s Your Job
DATE LIKE IT’S YOUR JOB
For my first article on JMag, I figured it would be best to focus on the first date. As an online dating coach, I’ve helped daters overcome a variety of challenges, and I’ve discovered that one of the most elusive skills is how to make a great first impression when you finally meet in person. There is a pinch of science and spoonful of skill in the secret recipe for getting someone interested in a second date. Some people are naturally better than others (and their measurements are generally 36-24-36) but the rest of us have to work at it a bit.
I always tell my clients that to really be successful dating online, they have to date like it’s their job. Most of us have found out the hard way that jobs generally take a lot of work. You can’t just show up on the front steps of a corporation expecting to get hired. You send out resumes, ask for referrals from friends, and network to get noticed. Your profile is like your online dating resume. It boasts about your background, your special skills, and is clear about what you are looking for. Referrals may be blind dates. Networking is like going to a bar.
Following that line of thinking, what would happen if you approached your first date the same way you would approach a preliminary job interview? Your date, much like a recruiter, is probably meeting a lot of candidates so you need a way to cut through and make a lasting impression. You can sound great on paper, but you have to live up to the promise of your online dating portfolio.
1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK – In a professional setting, you would always research the company that you’re meeting. In this situation, you should re-read the person’s profile to make sure that what they said is fresh in your mind. Pick out a couple of things that intrigued you to ask follow up questions about. Nothing is worse than sitting at a date and being asked the same questions that you already answered online. In this media age it’s also a good idea to do a little Google check just to know what you’re really getting. But don’t advertise to the person that you did so or bring up things on the date that you would only know by stalking them online.
2. KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE TO OFFER – When you go into a job interview, it’s always a good idea to know what you want to highlight from your resume during the conversation. A first date isn’t much different. Once you sit down with someone you’re attracted to, nerves can take over, and you can end up talking yourself out of a second date. If you come in prepared with a couple of stories that you like to tell and things that you feel are interesting about yourself to mention, you will still sound cool even if you don’t feel it. But don’t go so far as to write a script or be so focused on your planned topics that you push your date into talking about things they aren’t interested in.
3. DON’T WEAR OUT YOUR WELCOME – A first date is really just a chance to check each other out and see if there is chemistry. So often daters over-share and get so chatty on the first date that they turn the other person off. For the first one, just keep it simple – about an hour is all you need. Leave them wanting more and they will ask to see you again. Like the interviewee who asks about salary before the boss even figures out if he’s qualified, don’t want to get ahead of yourself at this first meeting.
4. GET YOUR LOOK RIGHT – You should invest in a couple of great outfits for dates that really make you look your best. Dress appropriately for the venue where you’re meeting but look like the best representation of yourself. You wouldn’t wear a suit to interview for a construction job, right? So if you’re meeting at a pub for a beer that doesn’t mean you should just wear the same thing that you have on when you meet the guys there for Sunday football. If you do not know what looks good, ask a friend that you think has good style to give their thumbs up to a couple of outfits in advance that are “date-approved.”
With these suggestions, maybe your next first date will be your last. Keep reading for more suggestions on how to navigate the rough terrain between sending someone an email and getting to the altar.