Old-fashioned dating just isn’t cutting it for you anymore. You’re too professional for the bar scene, too busy for singles club outings, and you’re tired of doomed blind dates with the progeny of your grandmother’s bingo buddies. You say, “I’ll try this online dating business. The TV says there’s millions of singles waiting to meet me!”
You put together a profile, slap up a few recent photos, and check your email box with the fervor of a kid sneaking a midnight peek at the Christmas tree, hoping to catch Santa, or at least his piles of presents.
But alas, Christmas morning never comes. There may be a few emails in your box, but they remind you an awful lot of those presents from grandma. Luckily, since we’re online, you don’t have to pretend to be excited about receiving them.
You shoot out a few emails – or a dozen – or one to every person with appropriate genitalia in the tri-state region. Bottom line – you’re sure this online dating thing is BOGUS and STUPID and you’re ready to quit.
Baby Steps, Geek Friend
Here are the baby steps to making online dating work for you. Be sure to complete each one before moving on to the next!
Before Your Profile Goes Live
- Choose one or two dating sites, no more. I recommend one free and one paid, but that’s up to you and your budget.
- Carefully craft an online dating profile that tells a story about you that is interesting and attractive to the people you want to date. Remember, your profile isn’t for you – it’s for your potential dates!
- Choose recent and appropriate photos. You want one closeup of your face, one full-body shot, and one candid of you engaged in an activity you enjoy. Avoid the deadly sins of profile photos!
- Run everything by a trusted friend. Can’t trust your friends? Run it by us and we’ll help you improve it.
Before You Send Any Emails
- Check your profile once it goes live to be sure everything looks good. Tweak if necessary.
- Set up your account preferences. Many sites allow you to customize what members can see you and email you.
- Set up your custom searches. I recommend at least 3 custom searches – one super specific, one specific, and one a bit looser.
- Use your custom searches to find people who interest you, then favorite them.
- Set a reasonable rate of emails per week. For our Gold clients, we send 10 first contact emails per week.
- Favorite first, then email later. This prevents you from going into email overdrive because you’re afraid you’ll forget to email someone. (Psst, we can tell when we’re the 14th person you’ve emailed that day.)
- Craft each email individually. Cut-n-paste emails stick out for bad reasons. Make yours stick out for being thoughtful and unique.
- Don’t wink, unless it’s right after emailing. You can combine an email with a wink, but don’t ever wink alone.
The Daily Grind
- Sign in daily, or at least 3x a week. Most dating sites list the last login date of each profile, so you want yours to appear current.
- Reply promptly. Even if it’s to say “No thanks,” be polite and reply promptly to all emails. You’d appreciate the same courtesy, so extend it to others.
- Don’t overdo it. Stick to a schedule. Emailing more than 10 people a week will start to take its toll on the quality of the emails you send.
- Favorite people, then email. If you’ve already sent out your 10 emails this week, you can continue to add people to your favorites list. (Sometimes, people you add to the list will email YOU before you have the chance to email them!)
- Be selective. OkCupid has started to show how frequently each member replies to emails. If you have the choice of emailing a green (replies frequently) or a red (replies very selectively), pick the best bet! (Or email the red knowing your chances of a reply are slim!)
- Don’t get discouraged. Especially with paid sites, your 10 emails may only be read by 6 paying members. Out of those 6, two may be already seeing someone semi-seriously and 3 may not be interested in you. Getting one reply isn’t such bad odds! Keep your chin up.
- Freshen up your profile. Update your profile at least once per season to reflect what’s going on in your life. You may get a second glance from someone who wrote you off originally!
- Don’t let online dating rule your life. Get away from your computer and do things. Join a meetup group, go game with buddies, take a walk with your dog.
Online dating works if you work it! Put in your baby steps every week and then walk away and live the rest of your life. If you give regular, focused attention to your online dating profile, you will see results. It may take no time, it may take a few months, but it can work if you work it. Be persistent!
Happy dating, geek friends!