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Send A Standout Email!

Want to separate yourself from the pack? Before you write your crush, check out these smart success strategies.

By Melissa Glass

aking that first move certainly ain’t easy, even with an information superhighway between you. Adding to the pressure: Anyone who seems especially intriguing to you is most likely a hot commodity, one who’s received a fair share of, “Want to grab a drink some night?” emails already. So with all of the stiff online competition out there, how do you separate yourself from the pack? To craft a stand-out email — one the object of your interest will actually want to reply to — steal these tips.

Tip #1: Show genuine interest
Let’s be honest, here: It’s mainly the picture that grabs your attention. But if you dash off
Gushing overkill will turn off a potential paramour.
an email without taking a few seconds to actually read a little about the person, you’ll wind up making an uninspiring impression. “When a guy first contacts me, I like for him to reference something I wrote in my profile,” says Lindsay, 25, from Los Angeles. “First off, it makes it more personal and lets me know that he didn’t just look at the picture and decide I was hot. Also, I’ll know it wasn’t some ‘profile spammer’ who sends the same form email to every girl.”

So pull out a couple of choice bits of info from his or her profile and mention them when you first make contact. You can even succeed with something as simple as: “I know your profile says that you’re always working, but I’d love to hear back from you when you have the time.”

Tip #2: Find common ground
One of the best things about this modern form of courtship is that you cross paths with a ton of people you would have never met otherwise. As great as it is to venture outside of your comfort zone though, at the end of the day, most of us are just looking for someone we can relate to. That’s why it’s important to establish that shared connection right away. “In my profile, I mentioned how much I love the Yankees,” recounts Scott, 32, of New York City. “In her email, one girl asked if I’d seen the game the night before and actually mentioned some of the highlights. Right there, I knew we’d have something to talk about on a first date.”

Even if you don’t share a love of Moroccan cuisine or kung fu movies, expressing a desire and curiosity to learn more will get that prospect’s attention as well. “If they mention a particular interest or skill, they might want to share that with a new person, so let him or her know that it’s something you’ve always wanted to try,” says Diane Berry, MSW, author of Romancing the Web.

Tip #3: Play off their clues
There are always those standard shots in a person’s slideshow—you know, at a friend’s wedding, tanned on a beach somewhere, a night out with friends. Often though, a
To intrigue that prospect, mention something unique about yourself.
person might slip in a little something extra, like a picture of him with his niece, a yellow Lab, or wearing an Eagles jersey. Well, consider it a hint. “If he or she provides this kind of clue in their picture, you should make a comment about it and ask questions in your first email,” suggests Alyssa Wodtke, co-author of Truth, Lies, and Online Dating. “It’s clearly something they care a lot about, so he or she should be eager to answer.” So say something like, “Your Lab is adorable! That’s my favorite breed. What’s your dog’s name?”

Tip #4: Give compliments… but sparingly
Who doesn’t love a good ego stroking? “A person puts their picture up there for a reason, so they want to hear that it had the desired effect,” says Wodtke. But inappropriate comments or gushing overkill will totally turn a potential paramour off. “I once got an email from a guy who just went on and on about how great my chest looked in my photo—he went on and on about it,” recounts Jenny, 28 from New Brunswick, New Jersey. “He actually seemed like an OK guy from his profile, but his email skeeved me out.”

Hopefully, you know better, but even PG-praise can often come across as forced or simply too eager. So definitely give a compliment or two — like on a great smile — but don’t overdo it or it may read like fan mail.

Tip #5: Share a little about yourself
Let’s face it: A person is not going to agree to a date simply because you’re interested. No, a person is going to want to know if you’re worth getting to know, as well. “Everyone on a dating site has gotten this email: ‘Hi, I like your profile. How are you?’” says Wodtke. “You’re unlikely to hear back by sending something like that because it shows a lack of effort and a lack of personality.”

So what do you say? Tell your potential date enough to reel him or her in (a little bit on what you do and where you’re from), but then also briefly mention something unique to you, like, “On the weekends, I’m usually hiking during the day and at a salsa club that night.” Wodtke suggests keeping it to just a few sentences, “enough to intrigue him or her, but not enough to bore or scare them away.” Oh, and if you’re not naturally funny or a master storyteller, don’t try to be now. Instead, let your strengths shine, be yourself, and open up those lines of communication.


Melissa Glass is a writer and editor in New York City.
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