But I want to try something new. I’m so over online dating (for now), speed dating makes my skin crawl (sorry but it does) and most singles events are poorly produced and/or aimed at youngins.
Let’s talking about getting offline.
I mentioned recently that I changed the copy of our speeddating events to read:
Aren’t you tired of emailing back and forth with that person from Match.com or OKCupid only to end up being blown off or disappointed? Here’s a fun and easy way to cut to the chase, save time and have fun all at the same time.
Join other single professionals for an early evening happy hour, topped off with about 7-10 rounds* of “mini-dates.” You’ll meet each member of the opposite sex for 5-7 minutes each (depending on the size of the event), turn in your dating card and then we’ll send you the contact info of your mutual matches 48 hours later. On average, 80% of those who attend end up with at least one or two mutual matches.
Why only 7-10 rounds? The more choices in front of someone, the less likely they are to choose and focus on one specific person. We like to avoid replicating the “shopping cart” mentality that occurs with online dating.
Once this copy kicked in, our speeddating registrations in both Boston and NYC doubled. That is not an exaggeration. I am convinced it has to do with the reference to the shopping cart mentality that online dating creates.
I’ve also mentioned that I am one of those people whose attractiveness is more noticeable in person rather than on paper. I doubt I’m alone in that. I think now, more than ever before, people need to incorporate both online dating as well as offline events into their rotation if they hope to meet someone new or special. Online dating has become intensified. People are much more likely to say “Next!” now. People are also becoming very insulated to the point where they think of nobody but themselves.
So, because I’m so servicey, I wanted to offer some suggestions, guidelines and recommendations to make your offline dating as productive as your online dating.
1. Attend an event alone - I know. You don’t want to show up alone in case you, like, get forced to make 5 minutes of conversation with someone unsavory. Come on. Grow up. Polish off those Big Girl Shoes and brush up on small talk and learn how to work a smile. The reason why singles/social events tend to draw more women than men is because women always bring friends because they can’t be alone. Guys attend these events by themselves all the time.
2. Learn to read signals - If you’re making conversation with someone and they excuse themselves, let them go and leave them alone. They’re being gracious. Don’t follow them around and hound them. If they wanted to talk to you, they would.
3. Learn how to make a graceful exit - I’m not going to lie. Singles events do attract a percentage of people who are socially awkward. But you meet those types of people everywhere. As an adult, we all have to learn how to deal with people like this. If you have to resort to being rude, then you’re as stunted as that person trailing you around the bar.
4. Remember – You get what you pay for – If you want to meet quality people, then attend an event with an admission fee. Free events tend to attract a lot of the people you don’t want to meet. If you’re someone who doesn’t like spending $25-$35 on an event in a major city, then you need to hang out in the suburbs. Nothing irritates me more than when someone attends an event with no concept of what was actually spent to develop it. (Granted, most people don’t.) The bottom line is that if they meet someone, it was worth it.If they didn’t, it was “poorly produced’ or some other excuse. To be fair,sometimes that is true. Things happen. It’s happened to us. But usually, the person complaining came to the event with a rancid personality/attitude.
5. Respect the age ranges - Ok. Buckle up. This one has bite. Ladies, if you’re in the high end of a specified age range of an event, you’re wasting your time. You will be surrounded by women younger than you. Yeah, I know. You’re a young looking 40, 45, 50. Guess what? Those 30 year olds are young looking 30 year olds. Guys? If an age range is, say, 37-49 and you’re 57, then you’re too old for the event. You can attend, of course. But you, too, will be wasting your time, as the women who register are looking to meet men in that age range. You will be considered that ‘creepy’ guy. People pay for these things to meet potential dates.It’s our job to provide that. When someone ignores the rules, they not only make themselves look bad, but they negatively affect the experiences of others and that’s not fair. I get emails all the time from people asking if they should register for an event even though they’re X amount of years outside of the age range. What they’re actually looking for is a private invitation. Just by asking, they know the event probably isn’t for them. They want the organizer to tell them that they’re welcome. You have to understand that hosting an event for the over 50 crowd can be difficult in that it’s very, very hard to get men to attend. Especially when you have disgruntled 40something women running to the internet complaining about the dearth of “decent” single men. Also not helping, like with the case of Match’s Stir Events, is having a bunch of women who do nothing but gripe about dating and who never seem to meet anybody up to snuff promote your parties. The Evangelists are an important and telling part of a marketing plan. Just FYI.
Now, as for where to go:
*Both OKCupid and Match.com have launched a series of offline events. Great. My guess is that both of these sites are using the event channel to generate new subscribers/profiles. The events themselves aren’t going to generate much revenue. But the subscriber fees that come from outside members that want to attend will, which is what I believe the true goal is. (I think both Match and OKCupid allow for people to register for themselves and friends without requiring that the friend create a profile.) Supporting that theory is that I logged into my Match account, clicked the Events tab and was told that I had to be a subscriber to attend an event. I clicked the link that said “subscribe now” and was directed to a page that listed the various paid membership tiers. Apparently, you have to pay to see a list of upcoming events as well. No, that’s not a “small fee” that people will have to pay. That’s a big fee of anywhere from $40-$100 something dollars. I tend to think that the “interest based” events will be few and far between and they’ll focus more on the free happy hours, as that might get them more bang for their buck. If you’re a paid member of Match you’ll see that, for NYC, all they have posted are two free happy hours. Like I said above, keep your expectations low for anything that is free to attend. But you should attend.Try to get in on one of their smaller, special interest events if you can. They appear to fill up in an oddly quick fashion.
*Niche events - Cooking classes, snow boarding classes, etc are all a great way to meet new people while learning something new. The fewer the people participating, the less likely you have that shopping cart mentality working against you.
*Speeddating – I’m not just saying that because that’s part of my business model. When I deal with an online dating client who appears awkward or shy or struggles to make conversation, I suggest speeddating. Speeddating provides you with multiple opportunities to talk to strangers. That is a key social skill. If speeddating “makes your skin crawl” well then guess what? You’re a social fail, too.
*Meetup.com - I would suggest the groups that focus on hosting small gatherings or special interests. Not the ones that have the free to get in blow outs at clubs and trendy lounges. They’re nice every once and a while, but they are meat markets and usually draw the non-city people. The reality is that if someone lives in a big city, they expect to pay for something and don’t complain about it. The people who regularly to exclusively attend the free events are usually the people who live outside the city or who don’t like to pay for anything. Yeesh all around.