Hello again fellow geeks!
This week I wanted to address an issue that many online daters struggle with, sending a great first contact e-mail. It can be intimidating to try to compose a message that catches someone’s attention, but if you try to avoid these common pit falls, you’ll move from online dating n00b to superhero levels of confidence.
Below I’ve outlined some of the things you should generally try to avoid when sending a first message to someone on a dating site.
Writing too little or too much
The first and most common mistake made when composing an opening message is writing either too much or too little. Sending one short sentence to someone that just says “what’s up?” or “hey, I like your pics” doesn’t give the recipient much to go on when composing a reply. It lacks originality and won’t grab their attention.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, writing a dense 5-paragraph essay is overkill and probably won’t garner a response either. Most users will simply glaze over in tl;dr land and your message will go straight to the trash.
Instead, keep the tone light and try to write a short 1-2 paragraph message that demonstrates you’ve read the user’s profile and ask questions to propel the conversation forward. For example, if they mention liking anime in their profile but don’t mention specific shows ask what they’ve been watching recently or what their favorite show is.
Failing to write something unique or personal
Nobody likes to receive a form letter or e-mail. This is doubly true when it comes to sending a first contact e-mail. It makes you feel like you’re just one of many who have received the same a cut & paste message.
It’s okay to have a general format you use for sending first contact messages, but it should always be personalized to the user you are contacting. Include details in your message that are unique to each individual message you send. Make it evident that you have looked at their profile. Always make sure to ask questions and comment on things they’ve written.
It’s also a great idea to come up with a short list of other general questions you might ask someone in an introductory message. One strategy is to have seasonal questions ready, such as asking if they have any exciting vacation or travel plans for the rest of the summer. If they mention being a cosplayer, try asking them which conventions they have attended this con season.
Making it all about yourself
One of the cardinal sins of online dating is making your opening message all about yourself. Sure, everyone likes to talk about themselves but it will make you seem a) like a narcissist and b) like you’ve simply cut and paste the message and sent it to many different people (see the last point).
If your first message grabs someone’s attention, they will look at your profile. You can mention one or two things you may have in common in your e-mail, but don’t go into great detail about things that are already mentioned on your profile.
Think of your first message as a way to get a conversation rolling, rather than trying to sell the other party on your compatibility. The likelihood of someone deciding you’re the droid they are looking for after only a paragraph of text is extremely low. A well-constructed opening message will hopefully peak their interest enough to lead to further communication.
I’m not sure why so many geeks struggle with this, but I find a lot of us have a hard time with knowing our own self-worth and awesomeness.
Writing negative statements about yourself – even if done with humor in mind – is usually a turn-off. When writing your dating profile, as well as with any messages you send out, you want to focus on your positive attributes. Self-deprecation usually comes a place of low self-esteem or low confidence.
So just in general, avoid making negative statements about yourself because they won’t translate well in a first contact message. It will seem like you’re looking for external validation from a stranger.
Even if you’re not feeling the most confident at the time that you’re sending your message, put on a brave face and put yourself out there.
Commenting on physical appearance
It seems like more men do this than women, but just don’t do it at all. Voicing your opinions of someone else’s appearance usually comes across as creepy or as if you are somehow entitled to with speaking with her because you’ve “complimented” her.
Telling someone you find them attractive is just about as subjective as things come and many geeky women actually would actually prefer to complimented on their taste in comics, the quality of what they think and say, or their commitment to an on going DM duties.
If someone is messaging you, you can safely assume it’s because they had at least looked at your photos and find something about you at least somewhat attractive. (Though we sincerely hope you are reading profiles as well as looking at photos).
Hopefully by now you’ll see that you should focus on what people write in your profile for your message fodder. If you feel absolutely compelled to comment on a photo, the appropriate way to do so if by asking if there is a story behind a fun or intriguing images, be it the room full of Lego or the candid shot of them at a museum in front of T-Rex skeleton.
Whatever you choose to say, just generally avoid making your comments about your subjective opinion of another person’s looks.
Do you have a hard time sending first contact e-mails? Do you have any strategies for writing great ones? What was the best first contact e-mail you’ve ever received? We want to know what’s worked for you. Leave us a comment below!
If you need some extra help composing messages or decoding the one you’ve received, our profile writing and coaching services maybe for you.