A Profile That Gets Results!

Here’s how to write an online profile that will work harder and help you connect with the best possible prospects.

By Margot Carmichael Lester

hen writing our online profiles, too many of us spend too much time talking about our ideal match. You know, what they’d look like, what their personality would be like, their favorite book, movie, ice-cream flavor and so forth.

But those reading your profile want to know more about you—because
Those reading your profile want to know more about you.
they’re the ones doing the shopping. This means you’ll be more successful attracting the right people if you spend a bit of time and energy selling yourself, awkward as that may sound. Don’t feel comfortable blowing your own horn? Realize there are those who want to be with someone just like you if you spend more profile time selling yourself than advertising for someone else. Here’s how:

1. Get over yourself
The first step is seeing yourself differently, counsels professional story-teller, Catherine Conant. That will necessarily steer you clear of the same old generic language. “We tend to find refuge in language that allows us to be ‘one of a type’ instead of staking our rightful place as a person of genuine and unique value,” she says. Ask friends to describe what sets you apart from others. Then play off what they say to come up with your own vision of yourself.

2. Write your own story
The best way to start is to write a paragraph or two about yourself as a “test drive” before you tackle your profile. Says Conant: “Your story should illustrate something of who you are and what you hold important,” and getting it down on paper will help you get at the “essence of you” that you want to communicate. For instance, says Conant, “you might write, ‘My grandfather was a really important person in my life. I watched him struggle his whole life, but he never said a bad word about anyone. He loved to make us laugh and I watched him do hundreds of small acts of kindness without expecting anything in return. I think he was one of the most important teachers I ever had.’ Without taking credit for anything,” she points out, “you are stating something insightful about what you’re offering in a relationship.” You can then shape and edit that insight to work in your profile.

3. Sell, don’t advertise
“I was so busy focusing on what I wanted in a woman — a love of sports,
Your headline makes or breaks your first impression.
no neediness, a desire to have kids — that I didn’t give a lot of clues about who I was as a potential mate,” says Wayne Robbins of Sacramento. That changed when his sister enumerated the good qualities of a woman she wanted to set him up with. “It hit me like a ton of bricks that she never said one thing about what the woman wanted in me,” he recalls. “She was telling me the things she thought I would appreciate about her. After that I redid my profile to focus more on my good qualities, versus what I was seeking.” A few weeks later, he got an email from a woman he’s been dating now for over six months.

4. Stand out
So many people try to be everything to everyone, “the surest sign of insecurity,” notes branding expert Rob Frankel, the California-based author of The Revenge of Brand X. You want to appear uniquely qualified and confident. “Sign on to your singles service as someone of the opposite sex and look at the people competing with you. You’ll be amazed at how many women and men say the same thing as the people right next to them. Then do exactly what they don’t do,” says Frankel, so you’ll stand out.

5. Extend the quality to your headline
Your headline is like your profile’s hand shake. It makes — or breaks — the first impression. So it needs to be high-quality, too. “Headlines speak volumes about you, perhaps beyond what you realize,” points out Mary Jo Fay, the Colorado-based author of When Your “Perfect Partner” Goes Perfectly Wrong. “You want to avoid things like ‘Oh-So-Lonely in Phoenix’ or “Captain Thigh Biter.’ I’ve really seen those, and they bring a lot of negative baggage.”

Yes, it takes time and energy and honesty to write a profile that really works well for you. The process may feel a little weird at first, but the results are worth it, Conant says. “To honestly know and claim your own gifts is to have a great advantage.” And, when you’re dating online, it could be what brings you into contact with your special someone.

Margot Carmichael Lester is a North Carolina-based freelance writer and author of the Education is Your Business blog.
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