Step 1: Search through your friends’ friend lists and identify those profiles you would be interested in dating. This could take a long time if you have a lot of friends who each have a lot of friends. You should probably first identify those friends who you think might have the best chance of having friends you might be interested in. But so what if it takes time? Would you rather be scrolling through the same old Match.com profiles?
Step 2: Once you’ve identified a potential, contact your friend to find out more about them and if they think the match makes sense. I do not recommend just contacting the “prospect” out of the blue without any due diligence, particularly for guys. If you’re a woman and you have great photos you pretty much do as you please, but I still highly recommend asking your friend to make the introduction.
Step 3: If your friend agreed to introduce you, then you’ve succeeded and can carry on to the date. If you can’t get the intro, you should consider the reason. If you trust your friend’s judgement, then you should probably pass and move on. If you think your friend is clueless or just wants you to remain single (for whatever reason. Use your imagination.) then you have nothing to lose by contacting the person. In your message you should start off by referencing your mutual friend, so that you don’t come across like a stalker. Just be honest. Say that you randomly came across him/her on your friend’s list and you were interested. Address or complimenting a particular comment or photo he/she posted is a great way to ease into a conversation. Exactly how to craft an opening message depends on whether you’re a woman or man and is beyond the scope of this post (I’ll deal with it soon).
In full disclosure, this is how I met my wife, So I know it works! (Read the full story in my book)
Isn’t it comforting to be able to see someone’s real name (instead of some weird username) and who they’re friends with before deciding whether to date them? And you can contact them for free! The only drawback is that unlike online dating sites, on Facebook you can only see people you are socially connected to directly or through friends. You also can’t search by specific criteria, which means you need to spend a huge amount of time clicking through every profile until you find what you’re looking for.
NOT FOR LONG!!
Facebook recently announced the soon to be publicly launched Graph Search which will basically allow you to search the entire database based on specific criteria. It hasn’t launched yet so I don’t know all the details, but from what I can tell you’ll be able to type in something like “single jewish men who live in Manhattan and like skiing” and get a list of results. Is that awesome!
In my opinion this will totally disrupt the online dating industry and seriously affect the fortunes of paid (and free) dating sites. The reasons are clear:
1. EVERYONE is on Facebook.
2. Only a small percentage of paid online dating site members are actually paying members. Therefore, they can’t read the messages you send them. That means only a handful of all of the wonderfully crafted messages you send are actually even read. The rest are just sitting behind the “pay to read” wall. On Facebook, messaging is FREE, FREE, FREE. That means your message will at least be read (yeah, it still might be trashed).
3. You can make up your own search criteria instead of being limited by the criteria set by the dating site.
4. Most importantly, Facebook uses real names and let’s you see the person’s social connections. That gives you a level of trust you can never have on a dating site.
But wait, there is a downside. On a dating site you know that the person is single and available. Well not exactly. Online dating sites do not verify the truthfulness of the information entered by members. Just because a guy checks off the “single” box doesn’t mean he really is. Same goes for other important information. On Facebook, it’s much more difficult to lie about important personal facts since you’ve got an entire social circle to fool. All someone needs to do is check with your “friend”. Sure you still need to be careful, especially if someone only has five friends with no photos, but the chances of you being scammed are minimal compared to a dating site.
There’s another problem. Not everyone on Facebook lists their relationship status or other important profile information. Here’s the solution: if your single and want to meet someone, you will fill in all the pertinent information just like you would on a dating site. You will do it because you know that you’ll have the best chance of meeting someone that way, and you won’t have to spend all that money on dating sites anymore.
I’m pretty sure that Facebook will continue to refine it’s graph search and create tools to make facebook dating much more smooth and private, but even at this point, it looks like it will be the best option for online dating.
Will this mean the demise of online dating sites as we know them? I think the ones that are based on members searching for matches are in big trouble. Those that offer suggested matches based on proprietary algorithms aren’t in much better shape. Anyone who’s done online dating knows how “accurate” those suggestions really are. Online dating sites are going to have to come up with creative ways of making the dating discovery process much more accurate and efficient, or provide assistance (like matchmakers) that Facebook won’t, to be able to stay in business.