Write Utterly Irresistible Emails

Attention online daters: Wooing a new sweetie via email? Or with IMs? Here’s how to up your odds of getting a reply you’ll love.

By Margot Carmichael Lester

f you’re looking for love online, you know that your e-communications are the first chance you have to make a good impression. Yet many of us struggle to craft engaging subject lines, scintillating IMs and compelling emails. “Many of us write unoriginal electronic communiqués because when we’re trying to connect with someone, the most important trait is our authentic voice,” says
“Show a lightning bolt of confidence.”
Steve Peha, author of Be A Better Writer. “But that’s the least important trait we learn in school. So after years of education, it’s almost impossible to tap into that.”

As a result, when we get to the moment of having to write, we struggle to find the right words. We try hard to be interesting and snappy, but end up sounding stilted or unoriginal because we haven’t had a lot of practice accessing our true voices.

With more and more people looking online for love, improving the quality of your e-communication could improve your odds of meeting someone. Here’s how to wow each prospective date with your words:

Think fast
Go with your initial reaction to a person’s online profile. “When you feel interested in someone’s profile, give yourself 15 seconds to 1 minute to let that person’s uniqueness settle in. Think immediately of a word, phrase or idea that strikes you when you read the person’s profile and want to write back. That gives you your natural voice. And don’t hesitate, self-censor or rewrite—that’s where the fear sets in.”

Be a little challenging
“No one likes pabulum,” asserts Mark Stevens, author of Your Marketing Sucks and God Is A Salesman. “If you’re a guy who is hard to please and hasn’t found a woman yet who’s passed your acid test, say so. Women love a challenge. If you’re a woman so tired of being cooler than every guy you date, send the message loud and clear. People say they fall for romantic descriptions, but in their
“A long first email kind of scares me.”
guts they prefer to lasso the ones who seem impossible to capture. Show a lightning bolt of confidence. They’ll come your way. Guaranteed.”

Be brief
“Honestly, a long first email or IM kind of scares me,” admits Tony Baker of Pittsburgh. “I don’t need to know everything about you right off the bat, so keep it short. Otherwise, there’s not much incentive to get to know you on the phone or in person.” Keep your first email to a few sentences and leave them wanting more—or at least not feeling like they wasted time reading your message.

Details do matter, according to Ella Michaels of Cincinnati. “I won’t write you off if you have one typo or grammar error, but if you’ve got a lot it tells me — at the very least — that you’re not paying attention to what you’re doing,” she says. “And if you’re not going to pay attention to an email, I bet you won’t pay much attention to me or our relationship.” Just reading your message aloud before sending will help you catch most errors. And if you’re really worried, ask a buddy to read behind you.

Sure, following this advice will take more time and effort than just firing off a stock IM or email. But if you haven’t been getting the results you want from what you’ve been doing, why not make a change?

So, with this advice in mind, use this week to practice capturing your immediate reaction—and the language you need to convey it. Investing time now will pay big dividends the next time you contact someone you’d like to meet online.

North Carolina-based writer Margot Carmichael Lester was successfully wooed by an email response to her online profile. A year later, she married the guy.
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