Highly Effective Emails

Do words fail you, or are you a master of the metaphor? Before you compose your prose, check out our quick list of dos & don’ts.

By Marcia Jedd

Witty, delightful, engaging, sexy. It’s not so easy to sound that way when you’re composing your online-dating profile or talking with a potential date over email. But if you take the time to plan your prose, you can sound like the great tiger, intellect or catch that you are.

Consider these dos and don'ts when writing:

Do: Be honest
Above all, women want a straight shooter. “The fact that he was a few inches shorter than he said in his profile was disappointing. But
Let trust build over time.
it spoke volumes: He didn’t have confidence or enough self-esteem to be truthful about his height,” recalls Elizabeth, 39, a flight attendant based in Newark, NJ. In the end, honesty lets you shine because it shows who you really are.

Do: Mind your manners
Email etiquette can be far more obvious to women than you might think. Checking your message for punctuation or spelling errors is worth the time; your goal is to position yourself as a catch. Ask initial questions that aren’t overly personal, allow enough response time (many don’t check email on weekends) and respond to questions thoughtfully.

Do: Define your style
Your profile should present a complete picture of you, whether that’s naming your hobbies, favorite sports team or revealing more about your attitudes and beliefs. Be specific. Listing your favorite author, interests or even dream-vacation destination will attract like-minded women more than the generic “I like movies, the beach and hockey.”

Do: Take it slow
Women need to build trust over time. Asking for a phone number or detailed personal information online right away is an avenue to rejection. “Men are so anxious to give out their number and want yours right
If you like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain, then keep it to yourself.
away. I won’t give them mine until I’ve been out a few times,” says Peggy, 40, a Minneapolis ad executive.

Don’t: Lie
Lying shows poor form and ultimately backfires. “In the competitive world of dating, it’s natural to want to present ourselves as more than we are, but hey, be realistic,” cautions Rebecca, 37, a Denver-based communications manager who met a guy who said he was an architect but really wasn’t. Adds Peggy, “One guy said he was 42, then upon meeting him he said he’d be 50 in a few weeks. He said he lied in his profile because he wanted younger women to respond.”

Don’t: Be too aggressive
When corresponding with the lasses, err conservatively. Portraying yourself as a hopeless romantic or online Casanova nets next to nothing. Samantha, 35, an art director from Detroit, says she never responded when a guy responded to her ad with the line that she was so beautiful he booked the next flight out, suggesting she should pick him up at the airport.

Don’t: Overdo the clichés
What’s more sexy than being your original self? If you like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain, then keep it to yourself. Admittedly, with the power of a web search these days, you can throw in an offbeat line or two from a poem, movie or song for spice. Just don’t overdo it and use only what rings true for you.

Marcia Jedd is a freelance writer based in Minneapolis.
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