We make contact with new people all the time – through friends, at work, at the gym – just about everywhere. But when it comes to dating, singles can find making the first contact very challenging.
Here’s a scenario: You’re all dressed up, feeling confident and arriving at a social event. Your attention is caught by someone you see. Your adrenaline surges, your heart beats a little faster than usual and then, your eyes meet. You may be wondering is love just a glance away as in this great song by a guy named Frank Sinatra called Strangers in the Night.
It’s show time!
Whatever you do, try NOT to think, “Could this be the one?” Nothing will hamper the flow of conversation than to put that much pressure on a first meeting. What you can think about is what you do, what you say and how you say it.
There are things you can do and say in that moment of first contact that will open doors and give you the chance to figure out if there might be something there.
- Make the first move. Create the intention in your mind to connect, but avoid thoughts of a final outcome. As I said before, if your expectations are too high, the simple process of getting to know each other could be complicated by your overactive imagination.
- Smile! Yes, it’s important. The smile is the universal language and it speaks volumes. It says you are positive, inviting, and a fun happy person to be around. It is an instant magnet for attraction. Most people mirror each other so a smile is likely put the other person at ease and may even win you a smile in response.
- Make good eye contact. Direct eye contact, in our culture, communicates honesty and sincerity like nothing else. And since it’s been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul, you can learn a lot about others by watching their responses.
- Introduce yourself. Doing so shows confidence and, as we know, confidence is sexy. So give your name, and ask for one in return so you can use it now and then as you converse. An introduction takes you beyond contact to engagement. It includes more than conversation. It also means tuning in to the other person’s speech and body language, and listening as much as you talk.
- Open up conversation. The best way to do that is to use what you see around you and keep your opening line simple. You want to get a response and exchange a bit of information. If there is a band playing you might say: “I love this music. What do you think?” Or you could bring up the food being served: “I hear the sushi here is great. What’s your favorite?” Or a genuine compliment: “I couldn’t help but noticing how your shirt matches your eyes. It’s a great color.”
- Be curious. When someone expresses a genuine interest in you, it’s flattering and makes you feel good. The same is true for everyone. So ask the other person questions with an eye to finding out what makes him or her unique. Do you notice something interesting? Hair cut, jewelry, smartphone? “Your necklace is so unique, where did you get it?” “I love my smartphone! Are you as dependent on yours as I am on mine?” After the first gambit, continue by asking open-ended questions. You could say “What do you like to do for fun?” “What was the last good book you read?” “Where did you travel last year?” People love to talk about themselves and it’s a good way to build rapport. Once the conversation has begun, ask follow-up questions.
- Exit the conversation gracefully. Eventually you will need to end the conversation, but you want to leave the door open to talk again. You could say, “It has been a pleasure to meet you. I truly enjoyed the conversation.” If you make a good connection you could say, “I’d like to chat again over coffee.” Make it easy: pull out your card. No awkward fumbling – the information has been delivered.
- Now keep practicing. Keep at it. Keep putting yourself out there and making first contact with people you think might be interesting to get to know. Remember, the more practice you get, the easier making first contact will be. Expect that not all your first approaches will be received positively. It takes courage to approach someone and it takes integrity to accept a refusal politely and with dignity.
You are on a journey: the journey of dating. Don’t turn around. Don’t go back to the starting line. Keep going and stay committed to the process. Every time you put yourself forward, you will become more comfortable, more skilled and more likely to hit the jackpot.