Dating Games: Marketing yourself to attract othres

Why bother going to a singles event if you’re not going to represent yourself 110 percent?

Dating cartoon 521 (photo credit: Pepe Fainberg)
Dating cartoon 521
(photo credit: Pepe Fainberg)
I recently attended a few Jewish singles events to write a story for a local Jewish magazine about opportunities to help singles meet each other.
But first I had to get over my shell shock.
My memory of my single days may be fuzzy, but I don’t remember so many people making so little effort. It was obvious from the moment I walked into each event that some people just don’t know how to market their best self. Whether it means looking your best, putting a smile on your face, thinking about what you’re going to say before you say it, even what your name tag reads – everything counts. Why bother going to a singles event if you’re not going to represent yourself 110 percent? At both events, the organizers gave everyone a name tag with their first name and a code, so that participants could record whom they were interested in and utilize the organizers to make the connection following the event. In this framework, people can exchange contact information if they want to, but no one is under any pressure to do so.
The first event I observed was speed dating at a local temple. The event was sold out early and I saw dozens of good-looking, local Jewish men and women I had never seen before. This was a great way to start the night because no one likes seeing the same faces over and over again – and indeed, the organizers took much into consideration and did the best job possible. The participants were assigned a table by age – both their own age, as well as the age range they were interested in. The ladies sat in the same seats on one side of the table while the men rotated seats whenever the bell rang. The organizers even supplied them with interesting questions to help break the ice. Each pair wrote down their partner’s name and code and after their time together discreetly noted if it was a match.
The issues I saw had to do with general attitude. A few people’s body language was so negative – arms crossed, shoulders hunched, a sour look on their face – that there was no way they were going to get matched.
If you don’t like the particular person sitting across from you, fake it! Ten other people are watching you both before and after their two minutes with you, and can change their judgment based on how you interact with others – so you must always act with class. Even if you were forced to attend the event and are there unwillingly, try to see it as an opportunity.
Apparently nobody portrayed themselves too badly, because all but one person out of 120 received a match, and reportedly 30 couples went out on dates afterwards.
Another event I observed was a lock-and-key event held in a Jewish day school auditorium, with more than 200 people in attendance. The ladies had locks and the men had keys, and trying to see if your key opened a particular lock was supposed to be a conversation starter. If a lock opened, the couple returned to registration for a raffle ticket (and new hardware if they so chose, or they could continue talking with their match). Once again, participants had a sheet where they could write down the names and assigned codes of the people they were interested in.
A shy person did not really have an excuse for not mingling, because the event concept itself did not allow for it. Even so, there were wallflowers left and right, people wandering through the crowd looking lost, others sitting alone.
Self-promoting is not an easy thing to do. We are not raised to be arrogant, humble yet confident, so to talk about how great we are (how popular, funny, successful, smart, fabulous and so on) is not natural. If you’re at a singles event, however, then you must do it. You need to look your best, be outgoing yet natural and not seem too desperate all at the same time.
Not an easy task, I know. Therefore I recommend having some canned lines about yourself ready to go – just make sure you’re not on repeat. I listened as one guy said the exact same thing to three different ladies; when the first gal overheard the same line, she was instantly turned off by him.
Remember when you filled out your JDate profile and answered five gazillion questions? They are asked for a reason, because commonalities help start conversations.
So try to remember those questions and use them as a tool at singles events – where you grew up, the school you graduated from and with what degree, the music you like, the sports you play and watch, the food you crave, etc. There is so much material to use that you should be able to have a completely different conversation with each person you meet on the same night, without repeating yourself.
Singles events are basically JDate live and in person, even if they’re not organized by the online dating site.
And like JDate, you shouldn’t be ashamed to be at a singles event – because guess what? The people you’re meeting are there too! When you sign up for JDate or a singles event, it’s a good time to throw caution to the wind, put yourself out there, lower any walls and find yourself some possible love interests.
The best thing about singles events is that you may feel an instant kinship with the attendees and draw comfort from that. Everyone there is there for the same reason – to meet someone Jewish – whether they were guilted and cajoled into attending or not. Try to enjoy the opportunity of having hundreds of local Jewish singles in the same place, at the same time, with the same motivation.