In theory, a contact request is just a matter of a click, but you can raise your game if you add a nice personal message. But what should you write? Here are some pointers for that very first message
2. Keep it short
Long screeds (“My house ... my car ... my ex ...“) are a turn-off. For a contact request, four well-chosen lines are plenty. Your message should arouse curiosity in the other person - acting as a kind of headline. The rest of this article should give you lots of ideas. Instead of putting your heart and soul into one contact request to your favourite recommended partner, it’s a better plan to send short messages to a number of prospects.
3. Hello, stranger!
“Dear Unknown”, “Hi, Usercode XY”, “Hello, dear Bristolian” … Whether you start off informally or with a little more ceremony is up to you. Perhaps you should judge this according to the tone that the other person sets in their profile. It’s always worth starting with a greeting, or your message can seem clumsy or impersonal.
4. What do you want to emphasise?
“I don’t know what I should write,” laments Gary (46). “My age, my job … it’s all there in the profile. I took forever over the things I wrote in my ‘About me’ page.”
You should create points of focus that complement what is already there in your profile. What is important to you? What makes you tick? Is it your job or that little place in the country that you are doing up? Does your contact request require further clarification? For instance, if you are writing to someone who lives 200 miles away, you can say: “I’m not planning on moving from Manchester at the moment,” or “Although we’re a long way away from each other, I’d like to get to know you better.”
5. What interests me about you is …
Make clear why you would like to get to know the other person. Have you discovered some special points in common … “I also used to have an iguana” …”I’m also a brain surgeon” …”I also hate rustic-style furniture” … If you have found his/her ‘About me’ page amusing or meaningful, then you should say so … It really can provide source material for your contact request.
6. Increase your chances with questions
You might find that certain details arouse your curiosity because you don’t know very much about them. If so, say so. For instance: “Gliding - that’s an unusual hobby. Perhaps you can tell me more about it.” Be careful with attempting irony or something a little cheeky. An approach that could serve as a conversation starter face-to-face (“How could anyone read nothing but Harry Potter?”), could be taken the wrong way in the context of an email. If there is really nothing in the other person’s profile to which you can relate, that might indicate that you should keep on the lookout for someone whose profile really appeals to you.
7. From the heart
Keep it real. Write as you would speak to a friend, or as if you were chatting to a new acquaintance on a train journey - but make sure your spelling and grammar are correct. If the other person’s profile has aroused your enthusiasm, make this clear to them, but don’t go over the top. It’s nice for the other person - and it tells them something about you - if you do a little bit of ‘live reporting’ … “I’m listening to Alicia Keys and keeping an eye out for my boss, to make sure I don’t get caught spending time on the Internet.”
8. Preserve your anonymity
If you’re thinking about giving your phone number or email address straight away, think again. Not only will you lose the protection of Parship’s anonymous environment, but also, as Parship’s Rüdiger Hort explains: “Not everybody likes to be supplied with personal contact details from the word go. Woman in particular can find it a bit overwhelming.” It’s better to wait until you’ve built up a sense of trust over several messages on Parship, or until someone asks you for your personal contact details.
9. Photo, please
It can be worth releasing your photo straight away if it’s a really good shot, and you feel it’s in your best interests to let the other person know what you look like. An appealing photo makes more of an impression than saying “I don’t look my age.” But think about how you might respond if you got a rejection based on your photo and the degree to which you would take that to hear. Many Parship members prefer to get to know each other first by sticking to words.
10. Does practice make perfect?
After you’ve written a certain number of contact requests you develop turns of phrase that you can legitimately use and re-use, and it’s not advisable to agonise over your messages: they should be as spontaneous as possible. On the other hand, you don’t want to send something that looks like a standard email … “Hello, I’m Robert. I liked your profile so much that I felt I just had to get to know you. It would be good to hear from you soon.” At least work something a little more personal into your message. With just a little bit of luck it could lead to something big.