Messaging / Netiquette
8. messaging / netiquette (where you are now)
The art of conversation involves listening as well as talking or typing. Your "conversation" with whomever starts with that initial message. Does it reflect that you were "listening" to her profile, just that you’re interested in talking about yourself, or . . . neither?
Don't be a lump.
Send a message to someone that seems interesting.
Remember, shyness won't get you anywhere over the internet.
Go ahead! It'll be FUN!
(Well, if you're doing it right.)
Messages can be "just friendly" rather than anything more and/or more aggressive than that, just to get the ball rolling.
While everyone has their own style, and that's absolutely fabulous . . . since you're reading our advice, that's probably what we'd recommend anyway. (There's a lot more on that in this advice section under "be open to the "just friends" option.")
Just reach out in a friendly way to whoever interests you. Let whatever chemistry may develop evolve naturally at its own pace. That tends to be how the best sorts of interpersonal chemistry work anyhow.
Don't insist on going offsite immediately.
Many members exchange several or more messages ON this site via which they establish a rapport and some stuff in common, then transition to phone and/or text and/or similar, then meet in person in a public place, then . . . whatever they like next!
And that would be the recommended progression, keeping everyone comfy.
Meaning, we know most members don't merely want to exchange messages on this site. They want their new relationships to move elsewhere as well. And that's awesome!
However, you will make some members uncomfortable if you tell them to text/phone/whatever-else you offsite within the first message or two, especially if you have little else to say. It's best to get to know someone a bit ON the site first.
If there’s mutual interest, you’ll still get there! Just cool your jets and give it a few minutes.
You might imagine you’re just sharing YOUR offsite contact info and gee, how could anybody ever have a problem with that?
But in reality, in order for her to respond offsite, her contact info would be attached to her text or call, forcing her to share HERS as well. She might enjoy the extra layer of privacy exchanging messages on this site provides, at least initially. She may want to keep her offsite contact info private until mutual interest has been established.
So if you send her a message insisting she immediately continue your conversation offsite, but she’s the sort that likes to get to know folks a little bit before sharing her own contact info, her choices would then be:
explain that you’ve made her uncomfortable
ignore your message entirely
How long should I make my first message to someone new?
Like we said above, while everyone has their own style, we'd still guess medium-ish. Around 75-150 words. Not all the words you'll ever send them, just the initial message.
That's approximately the length of the first section, "Don't be a lump." No, of course you don't need to count the words in your messages, that's just a general idea. Too short or too long may be a pitfall. (see below)
How short is too short?
Don't just type, "Hi!" and then . . . that's it.
No, there's nothing horribly terribly hideously wrong with just saying, "Hi!"
HOWEVER, a message that's monosyllabic or close to it puts the onus of continuing your conversation on the OTHER person. And that'll make many consider you a bit lazy or uncreative, which will never be a great look.
You say just: "Hi!"
What does she reply?
Merely, "Hi!" again right back at you?
OK, now you've both said, "Hi!"
But it didn't really get you anywhere, did it?
You could expect HER to pick up your conversational slack and say more than just, "Hi!"
But expecting her to do that for you rather than saying something more that she could actually respond more TO is the part where just, "Hi!" makes you look lazy and uncreative.
To get anywhere whatsoever, talk about what you might have in common, fun stuff you both like to do, plan a get together, etc., . . . someone will eventually have to say more than that.
Might as well just start there already.
(With more than just, "Hi!")
How long is too long?
For most, too long won't be anywhere near as shrug-inducing for your recipient as WAY too short.
Too long also will NOT make you look lazy and uncreative. And the importance of that should never be underestimated.
However, too long may still be a BIT of a pitfall for some. Again, your individual results may vary, as an individual and depending on who you're messaging, of course.
But it might be a safe generalization that if your initial message to a new contact is well over 1000 words, she may feel slightly overwhelmed.
It's probably easier to get a shared conversation going if you stop to take a breath sometime before 1000 words, and give her a chance to join you in your conversation just a LITTLE bit earlier. (grin)
If you ask her 25 questions in your first message, she may feel she must respond to all of those in order to message back at all, and that may feel daunting. She might not feel she has the time for a seriously considered and possibly seriously time-consuming reply right away, so she may put off responding. And then in the meantime, it might feel to you like your response rate isn't the greatest.
However, 2 or 3 brief questions will usually seem easy to answer immediately.
It's not that you can't eventually get to everything. You just might not want to try to get there all at once in your very first message.
. . .
In short, you may enjoy a better response rate with medium-length messages.
If you think there's a really, Really, REALLY long story or personal description that you need to share with new contacts before starting any sort of relationship, consider putting that in your profile and asking them to read that there (if they didn't already).
Avoid "Form Letters" and/or anything not personalized for your recipient
Form letters (sending the same chunk of text to many women) = "I may not have even read your whole profile, and I don't want to put much effort into this, but maybe if I send this same chunk of text to enough people SOMEBODY will respond."
It's the scattershot approach. Most women like to feel they're at least a little special, and what a form letter expresses is that the sender didn't agree.
How would you feel if you felt someone had contacted you specifically because you interested them, vs. a suspicion they sent the same form letter to every single member of their search results? The former invites, the second is more likely to bore or annoy.
When composing a message to a woman you think you might like to meet, ask yourself, "Why am **I** writing to HER?"
Not just because she's a member of the same site (although, that is a bit of something), but IN ADDITION TO that. If you don't know, she probably won't either, so back up for a couple of minutes and think about it. What drew you to her? What interests or characteristics do you share?
Find one or two things that stood out about her profile and manage to say just a couple of things about that.
It should be highly personalized, but it needn't be terribly long.
Different people can have vastly different ideas about what constitutes etiquette on the internet, but one of the more common "rules of thumb" is that if you can't be bothered to explain why you're messaging her, she shouldn't feel obligated to message back or explain why not. If the answer is, " . . . because I'm sending this same chunk of text to absolutely every other member I could," she's going to know that too.
If you have a well-written and informative chunk of prefab text about yourself that you like to use as an intro, it's probably just fine to include that in your initial message. Just add some stuff personalized for her as well.
If you can't be bothered to tell your recipient why you wanted to contact her specifically, perhaps you shouldn't bother.
You might say, "But why should I take the time to message something really personal to any woman I might contact, when I don't even know who might message back?"
Our answer to that is, YOU PROBABLY SHOULDN'T, not for EVERYONE. Save your energy and only message those women that interest you more, but take the time to put a wee bit of thought into it.
The best strategy is probably NOT to contact a larger number of women with a feeble and uninspired "form letter" message.
A better one would be to target your efforts toward the women that interest you most, but do a bang up kick ass job of it. If a woman that interests you gets a flurry of "form letter" messages, and one or two that were obviously written just for her, which ones do you think she'll find the most intriguing?
That's a little . . . flat, if that's all you said.
Chat about WHAT, precisely? Why her vs. anyone else in your search results?
This sounds like you're only willing to invest your thumbs in any interaction.
Compare those to this:
I just read your lesbotronic profile, which I think is a hilarious name for a personals service, and you caught my attention. I love going to live shows as well. I have never been to All Good or Bonaroo but I want to go every year. I would have gone to All Good this year but I left for (redacted) less than a week later and I just couldn't do it. I also love to travel. I do go to local festivals when I get the chance and I go camping with my friends a few times a year.
I have to say that the fact that you are a librarian is totally sexy, no matter what you look like. I'm an English teacher. I teach middle school in (redacted). I freakin' love my job and I am pretty good at it. I get to hang out with 12 year-olds and talk about books all day, what could be better? OK, maybe a sex therapist would be better.
I am a lot of contradictions. I am a respectable professional and financially responsible. I am also a hard partying butch dyke top. My closet has as many 50s bowling shirts as nice work sweaters.
I've always dated femme women, but I'm not so sure that's exactly what I want anymore. I think I might like a woman who is more in the center of the lesbian gender scale. I don't really know, I'm very open right now.
I also recently got out of a long relationship. My dust is very settled though.
So I'm a cute, intelligent, fun butch who can definitely carry on a good conversation. In fact, you might have to shut me up if I get going on a good topic.
Hope you'll message me back!
You should write like you speak.
But . . . aim for the best version of that.
If you don't normally sound like an English professor, you shouldn't attempt to do so in your profile or your messages.
However, that doesn't mean a message rife with spelling errors is your best foot forward either.
Take your time . . .
. . . in a general sense.
Well, don't wait months, but don't feel you have to message absolutely everyone in the course of one afternoon. In fact, it's probably best you don't, so you can put a bit more effort into those initial messages and not feel burned out.
Also, how many new online correspondents can you successfully juggle and/or how many new people can you meet for coffee in the course of the next few weeks?
For most, it's best to pace yourself. Quality over quantity.
Lesbotronic.com is free, so it's not a question of your membership expiring or having to pay again at the end of the month.
Don't max out your energies immediately or get discouraged if you fail to find instant gratification, just aim for an ongoing but reasonable effort.
"I messaged another member and she didn't message me back. WHY?"
We've received this question no less than 5000 times. No, we're really NOT exaggerating. However, most of the women asking something similar usually meant one of three very different things:
1) "Would you happen to know why a particular member I contacted did not contact me back? Like, has she somehow indicated her lack of interest in me . . . to the women who run lesbotronic.com? Or do you somehow know the answer to this question in some other omniscient way?"
The answers to those 3 questions are respectively: Extremely unlikely, extremely unlikely, and absolutely not.
2) "Maybe the member I messaged that did not respond to me is not still active, and that's why she didn't respond?"
It's certainly not possible for us to know what's going on day by day in the personal lives of all members of our very large website.
HOWEVER, if a member's profile is still active on our site, they are too, to the very best of our knowledge.
Everyone is sent an email when they've received a message or a new person in their search results. If an email we send anyone bounces, or if they respond that they are no longer interested in lesbotronic overall, their profile and their messages get DELETED.
So again, while we are not omniscient, to the very best of our knowledge, all members still listed in our database ARE still active.
3) "Do you have some general suggestions for me that would improve my OVERALL response rate? I know you likely know nothing about any one particular member's lack of interest, but can you give me some advice to help boost GENERAL interest regarding my profile and other members' desire to get to know ME?"
Since we started messages, we've seen an 85% response rate. Meaning, in a completely average, statistically compiled across all members way, about 85% of all messages sent from one member to another get a reply.
That's actually a fantastic and well above average response rate for a personals and/or social networking site.
But that is an average. (That means some members are doing even better than 85%, some worse.)
If the messages you're sending are motivating an 85% response rate or better? You might not need our advice.
Please first consider your profile. Read and consider our recommendations, especially "general recommendations," "constructing your profile," "cliches you should probably avoid," "HEADSHOTS (post one!)," and "be open to the 'just friends' option," links all above.
Then reconsider the advice on messaging above.
Then reconsider it all again, and really . . . try to be a bit honest with yourself. Give it a hard look. Allow yourself to be self-critical.
One reason we're putting all this advice here is so everyone can access 24/7, but another reason is so we can refer folks to it, without them taking it too personally and biting our heads completely off.
If you message a lot of folks and no one responds, you may need to give your approach a bit of a look.
Please do note: This is NOT us saying there's something wrong with YOU.
BUT THERE MAY BE something that could benefit from improvement regarding your approach toward others.
. . .
So you're saying you already did all that? Totally? Completely? No doubt whatsoever? Your profile and the messages you send are as recommended and reflect you well?
Then, sorry to say, maybe you just hit a bad patch of luck regarding the immediate availability of the members you selected, at least during those days you sent those messages. Unfortunately, that's obviously possible.
So branch out! Contact some other members! Different members, possibly those with whom you may have more in common.
No more members, you say? NOPE, not true!
There will always be more members for you to contact. You can expand your search options, and/or your geographic options, and/or you can join groups, and/or you can post on the board.
And that's just what you can do TODAY. Since new members sign up constantly, you can always stay tuned and contact newbies as they arrive as well (which is obviously a good idea ANYWAY).
Keep the preceding advice in mind, expand your options, and the overall social possibilities are virtually unlimited!