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Writing That First Message

I think there are few things quite as daunting as that blank field waiting for you when you write your first message to someone. If you’re anything like me you catch sight of someone who looks good and go to read the profile. If they’ve done a good job of that and shown there’s a brain in there too, it’s on to a long message, sending it out there and then…

Well, for a lot of us there’s no reply. Even at busy times of year, with an active and lively bunch around, it’s a sad fact that only about a third of first time messages will get a response. That said, there are more than a few of us who get much better results than that – so what’s their secret?

Well, looking at my own example, the key word in there is ‘long’. Nearly a fifth of all first messages are over four hundred words long – or about the length of this article – with many messages being up to double that in size. If you got this article in a mail message, would you read it all the way through?

Probably not – you’d be far more interested in a conversation than in being talked at for a while, wouldn’t you? While it’s true that first messages from guys are more likely to be shot down than messages from the girls, it doesn’t follow that putting everything out there in one message is going to be any more successful than something shorter and funnier that piques someone’s interest. After all, if you’ve put your entire life history into that opening message, where does that leave you to take the rest of your conversation?

Taking into account the amount of time you’ll likely be taking in checking that profile, thinking of a joke or two and psyching yourself up to actually take the plunge, we’d recommend taking between five to ten minutes to think about it all and typing up your message quickly.

A bit of number crunching suggests that a first message doesn’t really need to be any longer than a tweet – maybe a couple of hundred characters long at most. This really is one of those situations where hearing “size isn’t everything” is actually good news – because our research suggests that anything over three hundred words starts scaring people off on that first contact.

This then is the main point – that first message should really be all about just making someone aware of your profile. If they’re intrigued enough by that first short and sweet and to the point note, they’ll take a look at your profile and make their decision based off that.

You have all been putting some work into those profiles, haven’t you?


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This post was written by Amelie

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