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Online Dating 101

You have one click to make a good impression with your online dating profile. These four tricks will help.

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1) Pick a mature (not silly or arrogant) screen name. BigMikey9inch may sound clever to you, but chances are SweetJen28 will want nothing to do with a guy who feels the need to "advertise" (particularly when you're probably closer to NotSoBigMikey4inch).

Have fun with your screen name, but avoid being vulgar or cocky. Stay away from names that denote wealth or immaturity. Choose names that are simple and easy to remember. Craig Wax, senior vice president at Match.com, recommends "coming up with a name that gives an indication of what you are all about. So, for instance, if you like to ski and like to cook, your user name could be SkiingChef. Right off the bat, you get a sense of what this person is all about." Keep in mind that this is a name that might stick as a nickname, too, so nix options like Baddabing or TeddyBearBoy.

2) Use a high-quality photo. "A profile without a photo means one of two things to a woman: in a relationship or not so attractive," says Jane Coloccia, author of Confessions of an Online Dating Addict. She will want to see your face, so shots with sunglasses and/or baseball hats might as well not even be there. "A hat leads her to assume you have a balding problem that you are trying to hide," says Coloccia. And have someone take your picture for you—a self-portrait in the bathroom screams MySpace or desperate loneliness.

Include a current—say, within six months—head shot and a full-body shot of yourself. Step it up with a picture of you laughing. "Most often people make their decision based on the primary photo," says Wax. "At Match.com, you can upload 26 photos, so you can include a good cross section of photos to showcase your personality." Just make sure the fi rst one they see is an accurate representation of what you really look like and not how you wish you did.

3) Be clever in your profile. "Don't start out by apologizing," says Coloccia. "We don't need you to tell us that you aren't a writer or you hate writing about yourself." Let your personality shine through.

Since women are more emotional than visual, "color in the picture," counsels Coloccia, "with as many different facets of your personality as you can include." Self-deprecation and humor are always endearing ways to get noticed, but whatever you do, "avoid clichés such as, 'I like long walks on the beach and holding hands,'" advises Wax. "That's like saying, 'I like sleeping and breathing.'"

4) Stick with the truth. Typically, men lie about their height and women about their weight. Most girls will actually do the adjusting and take an inch or two off whatever height you write anyway. But don't think that means you're in the clear. If you're only 5'7'', and her profile says only over six feet need apply (or vice versa), play by the rules.

Otherwise, don't be surprised if she takes one look at you on your first date and smacks you upside your lying, little head.

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