A quick and dirty guide to speed dating

Q:  A friend recommended speed dating, and I’m thinking about trying it. I wanted to know if you have any advice. What should I do to get the most out of the experience?

A:Thanks for your question. Our speed dating events have an average 95% match rate for romance and friendship, meaning that almost everyone walks away with at least one match.

At our Speed Dating for Book Lovers event, something impressive happened. Something that turned heads.

One man matched with every single woman at the event.

Now, to understand how impressive this is, you have to know who was at the party. There were 20 women who ranged in age from 21 – 39. They represented a broad range of educational backgrounds, religions, and political views. Some of the women were locals, but many had migrated to Cleveland from all over the world and spoke multiple languages. Nonetheless, this guy was able to snag all 20 of their email addresses.

So what did he do? What was his secret? I decided to interview him to get the inside story.

He agreed to meet me at Dewey’s Coffee, and when he arrived he was wearing a wool cardigan and he ordered a slice of quiche. So no, if you’re reading this and thinking that the guy in question is a macho alpha male, think again. On the contrary, he comes across as polite, thoughtful and intelligent. We’ll call him T.

Here is his advice.

Each time T sat down for a date he asked, “So how’s this going for you?” It turned out to be an ingenious opener. It worked every time because it gave the women an opportunity to describe how she was feeling, and that helped to establish trust. It also showed that he was was a good listener, and that he was interested in hearing what his date had to say.

Although T happens to have an impressive career, he did not discuss work unless it came up organically in conversation. Speed dating is about flirtation and connection. It’s not a job interview.

T’s success also stemmed from his genuine interest in getting to know people. “I asked a lot of questions. If there was something she was excited or passionate about, I tried to learn more about that,” he explained.

He’s right. If you watch your date’s body language carefully, there will be a moment when his or her eyes light up. That’s your hook. Show interest in that subject, whatever it is, and you will have plenty of conversational fodder to consume your four minutes together.

T added, “Don’t worry about what you’re ‘supposed’ to discuss. Let the conversation flow naturally.”

Each date will be different because the chemistry between you and your date will be different. You don’t have to force it. Most speed dating events also have ice breakers or themes that you can use as go-to conversation topics. If there is a moment of silence, don’t panic. Silence can be sexy.

Finally, T matched with all 20 women because he wrote down “yes” for all of the women at the event for either romance or friendship.

The way speed dating works, you only find out who is interested in you if you also write down that you are interested in them. If you want to increase your chances of getting a match, mark down “yes” (at least for friendship) for each person who sparks your interest – even a little bit.

Remember, speed dating is fast. Four minutes is not enough time to determine if you are compatible. It is enough time to see if you have a mutual attraction. If you both feel a spark, you can set up a real first date to learn more about each other.

Here’s a Quick and Dirty Guide to Success at Speed Dating:

  • Share talk time with your date – try to each talk an equal amount.
  • Ask questions to show interest in your date’s passions.
  • Refrain from focusing on career – speed dating is not an interview.
  • Enjoy yourself – if you’re having a good time, your date will too.
  • Dress to impress – a little effort goes a long way.
  • Cast your net wide and mark down yes for many matches.