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Profile Workshop: Initial Contact

August 23, 2010

Isn’t the idea of making the initial contact on a website nerve racking? There is no doubt they are often the trickiest part of the online dating experience. What will you say that will make someone be interested in you over the many other people who are writing this person? What will make this person you make contact with reply to you and start a dialog with you? In this workshop, we will work on a sample initial contact and point out the purposes of what we write in our sample.

Let’s say we are Bill, and we want to write to Jane. Let’s start with a terrible example of an initial contact from Bill to Jane:

Subject: hi

i like your profile. if you want to contact me sometime that would be great. just let me know. its up to you. hope your doing great and God bless you this fine day. Bill

So what’s wrong?

1) The subject. Hi? Not too creative. Won’t stand out and grab her attention.

2) It does not say anything. There is no proof that Bill read her profile at all. It is the kind of message that you can copy and paste, then send to a hundred women. No self-respecting woman will take this message seriously.

3) Lack of proper sentence structure. This message shows no effort nor care. So why should a woman reply to this? This answer is she shouldn’t. There is no incentive to.

Does that mean Bill is not a nice guy and potentially a good future Catholic husband and father? No, it does not. But just saying “hope your doing great and God bless you this fine day” is not enough. (“your” should be spelled “you’re” by the way šŸ˜‰

Now let’s take a look at a good initial contact message from Bill to Jane.

Subject: From Star Trek to St. Bonaventure

Hi Jane,

I came across your profile and enjoyed reading it. Any girl who admits to being a Star Trek fan, I must get to know. Like yourself, I’m a huge fan of the show.

I also noticed that we have some other things in common. I’m the oldest child as well. I’m blessed to get along well with my siblings. I don’t see them as often as I’d like, but we always have a great time when we get together. I also love spending time with my nieces and nephews.

It was so great to see that you listed Saint Bonaventure as your favorite Saint! Not something you see every day. “Christ is both the way and the door. Christ is the staircase and the vehicle.” I think that “Journey of the Mind to God” has got to be in my top five spiritual books… closely followed by Saint Augustine’s Confessions. What about you?

IĀ noticed that you have a great interest in cooking. I fully admit to being pretty terrible in the kitchen, but my sister has insisted that I can learn. Under her patient tutorage, I am improving. Yesterday, I made some toast and it wasn’t burnt! (Okay, that was a joke, albeit a terrible one.)

I can share more about me later, if you are interested. I would like to learn more about you. I look forward to hearing from you.

Your friend in Christ,


Now, let’s go through the points that make this a very positive initial contact:

1) It is written in letter style. Bill uses proper sentence structure and punctuation. This is very important. It shows he took time in writing.

2) The subject line is original and appealing. It will stand out among all the “hi” subject lines she gets from those who don’t really care to try and win her attention, and ultimately her heart.

3) Bill took the time to read her profile. He points out things they have in common (i.e., Star Trek, both oldest child). He shows interest in particular things that interest her (i.e., St. Bonaventure, cooking).

4) He poses a question to her so Jane has something to talk about when she replies. It is not a yes or no question, either. It is a question that requires some thought and response.

5) He shows personality. He tries to make Jane smile.Ā  HisĀ joke puts a positive spin on his lack of cooking skills.

6) He doesn’t overshare. He shows a willingness to share more about himself later as not to overdo it in the first contact, and he shows interest in wanting to know more about her.Ā Too much about yourself and not inquiring about the other is a sign of selfishness. Make sure your interest is genuine. If genuine, make sure you share a little and offer to share more later. Maybe even offer to answer any questions she might have.

7) It is a short message, but not too short. This is just enough to get the ball rolling without investing too much time. It says what needs to be said to show interest and prove that the profile was read and you are contacting her as a result of what you read. Notice Bill also comes across as respecting her time and lets her know he wants to continue this.

Tip: Bill could use the “Ask Permission” feature the Premium MembersĀ have which sends a very nice message askingĀ Jane if he could have permission to write to her prior to sending his initial e-mail. This is very charming and shows he is respectful.

These principles apply as well if Jane wanted to write to Bill. Now ladies, I know many of you don’t want to make the initial contact. You would prefer that man discover you and make the first move and do the leading. But I assure you there is nothing wrong with writing a nice note that gets his attention. A smart guy worth having at all will get the hint that you are interested in his pursuing you.

That ends today’s workshop. Just remember, this is meant to give you an idea of the principles that work for a successful initial contact. You have to write in your own way that sounds like “you.”

Your initial contact is where you have to put your best foot forward, and will determine if you get to continue the correspondence, or whether you hear back at all. So make it count!


4 Comments leave one →
  1. Pete permalink
    December 8, 2010 9:10 pm

    The problem here is too high of an expectation. Sometimes (most of the time) an ice breaking email is like an in-person conversation starter – just like bumping into someone at the book store. It’s a knee-jerk reaction to someone’s photo and/or his/her profile content. We are all too caught up with instant gratification with our oh-so-perfect profile – anyone who responds should be THE ONE. Good grief. We all just need to come back down and come to our senses. (Oops. Sorry. Too much to ask, I know.)

  2. Jane permalink
    December 8, 2010 9:11 pm

    I read the ‘terrible example’ with a wry smile since it is characteristic of the kind of mail I often receive on AMS. Quite frankly, if a man gives no clear indication of why he is contacting me then, rightly or wrongly, I’m left with the impression of a man who isn’t quite sure of what he wants which in turn makes me uncomfortable.

    I appreciate that it is often nerve wracking to approach a person but a man who is clear in his intentions is far more likely to leave a lasting impression than one who is not. The fact that email correspondence can so easily be misconstrued makes clarity of intent all the more important. Without that, we’re left to guess whether a person views us as a potential match or just another penpal…

  3. Ann permalink
    December 8, 2010 9:12 pm

    I am discouraged as alot of men do not write intelligently. The other thing is that I do not feel comfortable in email telling people where I live, where I’m from. I think that is too much information if you have not even met someone. The most important thing about internet dating should be respecting yourself in terms of safety as well, right?

  4. Malori permalink
    December 8, 2010 9:12 pm

    This is great advice! I was one of those girls who wanted to be messaged first by a guy, but God had different plans! (When we’re officially engaged I would love to share our full story under the Success Story section of AMS!) When I found Mark’s profile, I wrote him a friendly message, in the letter form that is described in the article…I think the subject line was “Greetings from a fellow Texan!” I complimented him on how detailed and passionate he was in his profile about the Catholic faith, and asked him how he liked living in Texas after being from Wisconsin. I briefly described that I was born and raised in Texas and that really appreciate it more after being on the east coast during college. Then I asked if he would be interested in corresponding, and said that I was new at this whole online thing but I was praying that God would lead me. And guess what: he wrote the very next day (feast of the Annunciation!) and marriage is now on the horizon for us! I couldn’t be happier. šŸ™‚

    So girls, I want to encourage you to not feel timid to message a guy that has potential. On the day I ended up finding Mark’s profile, I felt this sense of “you need to do a search today!”…I felt compelled to do it, and I now know that was the Holy Spirit nudging me! I tried not to get my hopes up when I messaged him, as his profile was amazing and I thought that perhaps he was talking to another girl already. But as Pope John Paul the Great would say, “Be not afraid!” God has great things in store for all of us…we just have to be willing to trust in Him!! šŸ™‚

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