Sunday, September 13, 2009

Have a Relationship, With The Internet

~ This article appears on Where did My Neurons Go?, and imports directly into Facebook. Comments welcome in both locations. ~

I recently helped a single friend create her online dating profile. It was fun, and I remembered learning the hard way, many years ago. Back then, I would get depressed from lack of responses! I didn't know there was nothing wrong with me. I was simply uneducated about the realities of profile-making.

The amount of effort you put into your profile says a lot. If believe you are unattractive, or feel negatively about your chances, you could subconsciously sabotage your profile and then your worst fears will naturally be confirmed.

Making your profile as good as you can will not only make you feel good, but will generate better responses. A good profile reminds you that you are attractive in many ways. (You are!) At worst, spending the few hours it takes to set it up well is just a good exercise in self-knowledge. This is your marketing material, so don't shortchange yourself!

I thought I'd share some of the lessons I've learned. Feel free to share yours through comments!
  • Lesson #1 - Get a great profile picture.
    Would you look at a profile with no picture? If so, stop being so naive! Some estimate that 75% of people ignore profiles without pictures. I estimate that it's closer to 105%. I wouldn't waste my time searching for people whom I may or may not find unattractive. Why waste yours?

  • Lesson #2 - Use several great pictures.
    Everyone can find or take flattering pictures of themselves (read: your facebook photos). There is no excuse for pictures that aren't clear. Have at least one picture that has you smiling, one of you with others, one of you doing something fun/interesting/hilarious, and one with your entire body, with clothes of course! Your own photo collection has both good and bad photos. Do NOT use the bad ones. Its better to have fewer pictures than to have a bad one.

  • Lesson #3 - Don't forget the pictures.

  • Lesson #4 - DON'T FORGET THE PICTURES! Seriously!

  • Lesson #5 - Be truthful.
    Making stuff up can cause trouble later on and also attract people who aren't into the real you. Its unwise to leave out important items, like the fact that you have children. Being upfront about big things is an opportunity to skip people who are uncomfortable with your life, and to encourage people for whom those things are irrelevant, or even actively sought. The internet is trying to help you filter people quickly. So help others filter you -- you already do it to them. Still, being truthful doesn't mean to avoid creating a little mystery since many details don't need to be shared. Just make sure that your true self is represented.

  • Lesson #6 - Be interesting.
    Share some of your unique quirks and interests. If you are worried about being judged, then learn to accept yourself. Being comfortable with yourself is always attractive. Everyone has quirks -- if you don't, then maybe you are in denial. Sure, this lesson isn't really just about online dating, but it still applies.

  • Lesson #7 - Be funny.
    Your unique sense of humour is important, so definitely toss some in. For example, when asked to describe herself with three adjectives, my friend's third adjective was "teal". Hilarious, and intriguing. Its a colour. What!? Exactly. Don't you want to know why? Of course you do. If you think you are too serious to have jokes in your profile, then lighten up. People enjoy laughing.

  • Lesson #8 - Keep your profile the right length.
    A very short profile says little about you. It might suggest to others that you are afraid, or lazy, or possibly self-conscious. Provide some detail to create a fuller image of yourself. Conversely, a very long profile can suggest that you don't know where to stop, that you have poor judgement, or that you are trying too hard. People want to evaluate quickly, so don't tell your life story -- they will probaly gloss over it anyway. Its important to strike a balance. A friend in the demographic you are seeking is often a good source of feedback.

  • Lesson #9 - Don't take anything personally.
    Most people don't even know you. There may not be the best matches for you on your particular site. There can be many reasons for not getting the results you want. Blaming yourself is illogical, because you typically have no idea what the true reasons are. Imagine some plausible reasons for any disappointments, and you will eventually stop being so disappointed. The only thing you can control is your profile, and sometimes even that gets censored by the system!

  • Lesson #10 - Make sure you stand out.
    Your pictures, your profile and your messages should be uniquely you. But you also need to make sure its not the same drivel everyone else uses. Ways to get educated: (a) Do some recon on the competition - browse your own demographic (b) Get feedback from a friend (c) Sign up a second account as someone who is your ideal match, use a very attractive picture, and a sparse profile, then sit back and read all the stupid mail you get from others -- it will be enlightening. Think of it as an experiment, which isn't misleading if you don't contact anyone. Be careful not to fall in love with the person you just created.

To go a little farther, many people try to explain the same things: They're a nice person. They are fun to hang out with. They like long walks on the beach. They enjoy hanging out with friends. They like watching movies. That describes everyone!

Set yourself apart and don't write boring words. Think about how your ideal match filters most profiles because they are all so similar. That's only because the others haven't read this article yet. Now use your advantage and get out there!


Monday, July 20, 2009

Reflections On Another Year #4

Why do we blog? Well, more specifically, why does Daniel blog? (And why does he speak about himself in the third person!?)

My blog's recent sparseness has made me question its reason for being. Here's what I came up with: It tells me about myself, and how I've grown. It helps me understand where I've come from. The writing makes it concrete somehow, while making it public makes it motivational for me, and possibly informative for others. Also, the aspect of creating a discussion forum strikes a chord with me.

Realising that my yearly review is six months overdue has helped me refocus, despite the deadline being self-imposed. I've only written two entries for 2008, correctly concluding that I am too "busy", so I've tried to slow it down by booking vacation time, and making more time for family and friends (some of whom have commented that I occasionally disappear). Also, I've obviously decided to write my yearly review, which admittedly usually takes a few days (or weeks in this case) anyway.

So let me get right to some of the significant happenings I've had this year (okay, year and a half).
  • I got a new job with GM as a manager, recently celebrating my one-year anniversary, and received a great performance review (we still went bankrupt)
  • I opened a US bank account and got a US credit card (difficult for a Canadian with no US credit history)
  • I conducted a 13-person orchestra for a succesful musical, and composed a clarinet part for Catherine
  • I visited Mexico for the first time, work-related
  • I vacationed back to Mexico, and visited Chichen Itza (Mayan ruins), and also had my fourth and best scuba dive off the coast of Playa del Carmen, with David, Katie, Megan and Tyler
  • I visited Australia for the first time, for World Youth Day and saw the Pope from a few feet away, with Scott, Jessica, Todd and others and pumped up the statistics: Countries visited: 17. Popes seen at arms length: 2
  • I saw the Dalai Lama in person at a talk he gave with Laura, Emily and others
  • I got an Apple laptop in a flash of bravery (must learn shortcut keys!)
  • I authored two and a half new songs that are album material
  • I recorded another original song in the recording studio with Chris
  • I helped to organise a retreat with Sean, Anne, Lauren,Tom, Claudia and Mike and spoke about my thoughts on prayer life
  • I played a lot of soccer, and added trail biking to my sports (thanks Sean!)
  • I participated in an Engineering competition to help the deaf experience music with Sean and Chris, resurrecting my digital signals processing skills
  • I helped build and care for an organic garden with Josh and (almost) Kabir
  • I met several American dignitaries during a tour and press conference at work, including: Jennifer Granholm (Governor of Michigan), John Dingell (US Congressman), Hilda Solis (US Secretary of Labor), Ed Montgomery (an Obama Auto Task Force Director), Alan Lambert (Mayor of Romulus, Michigan)
  • I performed a bunch of consulting work in Toronto for Pearl
  • I cleared out most of my belongings in Toronto (through recycling and donation, I generated only half a bag of trash)
  • My long-term relationship ended with sadness after many wonderful memories

But I don't want to just list all the important happenings in my life. I'm trying to fully internalise the idea that what I'm learning and how I grow matters most. So here are some of the things I think I've been learning:

  • Money can be seen as the ability to do what you want with your time
  • Reluctance to burden others can be unhealthy, allowing others to help is often needed
  • People generally can't fundamentally change, nor should they, and we must learn to accept others and ourselves as we are
  • It is often incorrect yet easy to feel responsible for others' actions and feelings
  • The only person who takes care of one's best interests is oneself
  • Sustainability, diversification and balance can be applied to everything in life
  • Everyone wants to be listened to, understood and acknowledged
  • What we believe about ourselves, we often create in our lives, positive or negative
  • Our conscious and subconscious mind should agree for maximum strength of purpose
  • Making time for oneself is a powerful step toward appropriately making time for others

That brings me back to the concept of the blog itself. Writing seems to be something I do primarily for myself and that I can be proud of. If I have so few entries this year, perhaps I'm not making enough time for myself. So, I have about six months before my next entry is "due", and I plan on writing at least four quality blog entries. Please suggest an interesting topic that you'd like me to break down!


P.S. This entry will be imported into Facebook automatically, but comments are welcome in both places.