In a previous lifetime I used to manage a personalized match making service. Having a natural interest in all things of the heart combined with my work I had become and still am somewhat of an agony aunt. I’ve come to learn that regardless of where I am, Silicon Valley or London the problems faced by singletons are the same.

The current online dating industry is worth 3 billion world wide. Last year 17% of people that got married met online which is a dramatic increase from recent years. However most people, women especially do not want to use dating websites. The stigma of online dating is not as aggressive as it used to be, however it is still considered very negative in some non-tech communities. On average twenty people from one hundred will use a dating website.

Every week I receive emails from single men and women who are looking to meet a potential partner but they refuse to go ‘online’.  Trying to find a middle ground I have taken Facebook, an online service that more or less everyone uses with no horrible stigma attached to it, to create a dating guide.

Let’s face it most of the millions of pokes that are sent out are from eager hopeful singletons.

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Photo

Your ‘Profile Photo’ is perhaps the most important aspect of Facebook dating, so make sure its a good one. Photos of you alone, looking directly into the camera and smiling do the best. If you don’t want to look into the camera then gazing down does wonders according to the OKcupid research of popular photos. It goes without saying that the photo should be of high quality, no it doesn’t need to be a professional studio photo just not a grainy webcam shot. Avoid at all costs; pulling funny faces, blurring or cropping out other people and putting on a flirty-face whilst looking away from the camera.

Have multiple photos in your ‘Profile Photo Album’ in this style and change the privacy setting to public or friends of friends, depending on how far your going to take your search.

Profile information

The ‘Relationship Status’ is a point of contention among different Facebook dating conversations. Those that say to not list you status do so because if you are a person that is in and out of relationships it will reflect badly on your stability and suitability as a good match. However me and most people I have spoken with assume a man is in a relationship or looking to have fun if his relationship status is left blank. We also assume the same of women that hide their relationship status.

If your ‘Relationship Status’ is set to ‘Single’, you increase your chances of someone finding because the information is available for discovery.  However I do recommend that you wait 6-12months before changing your relationship status if you are no longer single, just to be sure.

Set your ‘Looking For’ as ‘Friendship’, avoid selecting more than one option, two max. Profiles that say; Looking For: Dating Friendship and Networking, can come off a bit desperate. Set your ‘Interested In’ to either women or men.

Listing your full birthday is also recommended, age is important to some people and getting this out of the way stops wasting everyone’s time. Keep your personality in the rest of your profile and try to write something interesting in the ‘About Me’ section. Set your’ Basic Information’ ‘Privacy Settings’ to ‘Friends of Friends’ or ‘Public’ depending on how safe you feel.

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Now your Profile is ready, so you need to start looking. Facebook Groups is a great way to meet people. I have a friend called Becky who met her now fiance in a Facebook photographers group. Groups allows you to define your search criteria by interests.

If you’re a women then browse your male friends’ friends and if your a guy then look at your females friends’ friends. As girls tend to have more girl friends than male friends and vice versa

If you’re looking to narrow your search criteria by religion, then search for names that are common to that religion. If you’re feeling brave then join a singles group.

Contacting

The general rule is to not send a Friends Request or Poke but a message as the first point of contact. I however met my husband by sending him a Friends Request 4 years ago but Facebook was a smaller place back then.

Accepting a friend is a bigger commitment then corresponding via messages. When you ‘click’ with that person and are sure they are not going to stalk you or flip out then add them.

Remember that Facebook is your online identity and no matter how safe we think we are being, we are sharing a lot of information on our Profile. Some people create a separate pick-up profile but then there is nothing less appealing to a girl than a guy with only female friends on his profile. It is hard to not make the second profile appear fake.

Exactly like in real life, you need to start the conversation with an important first sentence or two. Try opening with something witty and positive. Talk about activities and other information shared in her profile, and ask a question to leave the conversation open for a natural response flow.

Try to avoid being full on, avoid sharing problems till you meet in person. We all have problems but leave it offline for the start. This is not the same as withholding the truth, some things are better said in person.

Here is a funny message I once received when my Profile picture was of me wearing sunglasses:

“Hi, I like your glasses I just wanted to know if you are one of those people that wear them inside as well?”

I responded just because the message was so funny and out of the ordinary.

However if you share mutual friends with a potential date then ask that friend about them, as long as you don’t mind them knowing you’re single and looking.

Events

Facebook now allows you to view Friend’s Events and if you don’t want to send messages then this would be a good way to meet people from Facebook. Check out who is attending and if anyone catches your eyes, take a look at their profile/photos and then attend the event.

Privacy

I’ve mentioned Privacy before but I would like to touch on it again. If you’re going to be contacting people on Facebook I highly recommend double checking your Privacy settings.

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If these steps are not enough to make you a Facebook dating pro then here are some apps that you can use:

Search Beta: Add this app to make searching singles on Facebook easier.

Popular dating apps: Zoosk, Social Connect, Flirtmaps, DoUlike, Zingle, Meet New People Social HiAreYouInterested, Speed date and Match Maker