Online dating: Write a great first email

  Here's how to avoid the mistakes and stand out from the crowd.

If you’ve spent any time on a dating site, you’re probably familiar with the main types of bad intro-email: the lame (“Hi, you’re hot”), the long (“Hi, I have nothing better to do, so here are 2,000 words”) and the laughable (“Hi, here’s one you’ll want to show your friends”). Here’s how to avoid their mistakes and stand out from the crowd.

1. Be a selective emailer
Don’t scattergun a generic “hi, check me out” email to 50 people a day. The law of averages does not work in online dating. Only write to a potential date if you’ve read their their profile properly and it really appeals to you.

2. Watch your word count
A long email is great if it’s from someone you want to hear from, but not if it’s from a stranger. With first emails, short is definitely sweet. If they have to scroll down to read any of it, they won’t bother.

3. Make your email a one-on-one
Your email should be about them, not about you. Read their profile closely, pick out an interesting point and ask an original, open-ended question about it. If it’s something unusual that you two have in common, perfect. However…

4. Go easy with the questions
Don’t turn your message into a quiz. Also, be careful not to ask questions that they’ve already answered in their profile – it’s a dead giveaway that you didn’t read it properly.

5. Don’t tell them how hot they are
No matter how vain they are, a compliment about their personality will turn them on far more than a compliment about their photo. Save the “beautiful” stuff for a date or two down the line.

6. Be confident
Too many online daters end their emails with comments like, “if I’m not for you, that’s fine too. I hope you find the person of your dreams!” Don’t do this! You’re inviting them to reject you. You don’t sound modest, you sound pathetic.

7. Dump your baggage
Don’t even think about sharing the details of your dreadful luck so far in the online dating game. “Hi, I’m unlucky in love, how are you?” is not an ideal conversation opener.

8. Use your own tone of voice
This doesn’t come easily to everyone, but if you can sound chatty and natural you’ll stand a much better chance of getting a reply. Try speaking out loud, and typing as you speak. Best avoided in the office.

9. Read before sending
Read it through before hitting “send”. Nothing says “I can’t be bothered” quite like an email full of spelling mistakes.

10. Don’t put them under pressure
Your first email is a simple introduction, not a piece of emotional blackmail. “You’re the only interesting person I’ve found on here in weeks of looking, so please write back to me” makes you sound creepy – and it won’t get a reply.