It was May of 2013. I was 23, single, and visiting Las Vegas for an annual girls trip. My friends and I threw on our glitziest dresses and most uncomfortable heels before heading to a nightclub at Caesar’s Palace, which had free drinks for ladies until midnight. After dancing our hearts out for about 45 minutes, we flirted our way up to the rooftop bar. It was there, amid the glow of the Las Vegas strip, that I met Sandy — the man who I’d marry five years later.
I know my love story is a bit out of the ordinary. Meeting someone on vacation is one thing, but Las Vegas? Sin City gets a bad rap as a hopeless place for gamblers, partiers, and people trying to relive The Hangover. It isn’t exactly where you typically find your forever.
But even with all of this in consideration, my summer romance is probably most unconventional for one simple reason: I first interacted with my future husband in person.
As a millennial, you just don’t hear about chance, face-to-face meetings anymore. They’ve become the minority statistic in the world of relationships.
Today, there’s a new way to play the dating game. These days, sparks fly by “sliding into the DMs.”
The Direct-Message Phenomenon
When I met Sandy, Tinder was only a few months old, and I don’t think Instagram even had direct messaging capability yet. I never had the chance to make myself a profile and practice swiping right, or to experience courtship via Instagram. But it’s a serious thing.
For those who need a social media history lesson, the textbook (Urban Dictionary) definition of “sliding into the DMs” is as follows:
When you start a direct message chain on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, with the hopes of acquiring the booty.Urban Dictionary
Yes, chivalry is dead.
I recently visited a friend and spent what seemed like an eternity trying to help her find a date on Hinge. Woof, it’s rough out there folks. Godspeed.
Creating Opportunities via DM
I was lucky enough to retire from the game before the downfall of romance, but this old married soul still has a few things to say about the art of direct messaging based on my own experience.
These days, I don’t direct message to find a summer fling or future love — I send and receive DMs to network and build genuine, professional relationships. (Jeez, what happened to me? I just grew some gray hairs even writing that sentence.)
Surprisingly, the old rules of courtship still apply, but it seems that this generation, and even the ones before it, never learned them or forgot them all. If I get one more generic LinkedIn message asking for a favor, I’ll scream.
So let me remind you how it’s done.
Here’s how to use direct messages to connect, either romantically or professionally:
- Address the recipient by name. Dale Carnegie, the author of the iconic book How to Win Friends and Influence People says “Remember that a person’s name is to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language”. This simple tip shows common courtesy and respect.
- Do basic research. If you’re going to DM someone, demonstrate that you haven’t done so blindly as part of a mass messaging frenzy. Such a turn-off! Write something personal and tailored to the recipient.
- Flatter. A genuine compliment goes a long way, but don’t be creepy. Tell the recipient why you like their work, why you admire them, or what interested you in the first place.
- Give before you get. You might need a favor or have an end goal in mind, but try to start off the relationship in a way that is mutually beneficial. Ask yourself what you can offer, even if it’s just lunch.
- Take things slow. Jeez, shouldn’t you at least take me to dinner first? This proverbial rule holds true in the messaging world. Build your relationship little by little.
- Don’t ghost. The recipient might help you with what you want or need, but continue to nurture the relationship over time. Show gratitude, tag them in content that you think they’d find helpful, or invite them to an event they like. One day, you’ll be glad you kept in touch.
It’s really not that hard. At the root of it all, just be a good, thoughtful person. Show empathy. With a little respect and finesse, soon your calendar will be filled with meaningful meetings — either with your future spouse, biggest mentor, or potential business partner.
READ MORE: Even Jennifer Lopez knows how to send messages the right way. Here’s what we can learn from J.Lo’s text messages.