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The Sci-fi and Fantasy Book Club Message Board › Speed Dating for Science Fiction and Fantasy Lovers (November 2012)

Speed Dating for Science Fiction and Fantasy Lovers (November 2012)

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Group Organizer
Fairfax, VA
Post #: 883
We've been presented with an unusual but cool opportunity for the singles in our group. Professionals in the City runs great singles events year-round in the Washington, DC area, and they're holding a special event: Speed Dating for Science Fiction (and Fantasy) Lovers on Sunday, November 4 at 7:30 PM.

I know not all of our singles are actively looking for or interested in a relationship right now, but this should be a fun event, and spending a few minutes on each date is really not that stressful or difficult (it's certainly a lot less investment of time than a full blind date would be). Come out as a show of solidarity for your compatriots. And if you're not persuaded by that, think of this as an anthropological study into the courtship habits of our people. (Note: Even better, it's safe to wear a red shirt on this away mission! Almost certainly.) So it should be an entertaining evening, and you'll have friends attending so it won't be as difficult as walking into a room full of strangers. And if you're still worried about it being a difficult, we'll even give a $25 gift certificate to Houlihan's to whomever walks away with the weirdest (or worst) speed dating story of the night. So how can you lose?

To help fortify your resolve, we'll be holding Liquid Courage (Happy Hour - no reading required!) immediately before the event at the Nando's nearby. The entire book club is invited for that event, so you'll have a chance to ease into the evening before those of us attending the speed dating walk over to Zen Bistro.

Registration for the event opens at 7:30, and the speed dating starts at 7:50 and lasts about an hour, with time to socialize after if you wish. Professionals in the City (who have heard of you, seriously, you're infamously awesome) has generously offered us a 50% discount rate if you purchase online: Tickets for the event are $15/person and can be purchased here­ using Promo Code: Sci11294. Tickets will be $30 at the door, however, so don't delay.In addition to actually meeting your speed dates, you'll get access to an online system that lets you message anyone who attended the event and select matches. You don't have to exchange your real contact information with anyone at the event, so your privacy is well protected.
Group Organizer
Fairfax, VA
Post #: 887
I know that some of our members may not have gone speed dating before, or may be facing the prospect with some trepidation. I wanted to lay out a couple pointers, culled from my own experience running events like this, as well as the greater wisdom of the Internet. smile

Above all, remember that this event is meant to be fun and low-stakes. The worst that can generally happen in 4 minutes is that someone who really doesn't know anything about you may not remember you. There's no risk of any sort of deep rejection or value judgment of you as a human being. Also, remember that you'll have your friends from book club around you, and even if you have a lackluster date or two, you'll be able to laugh about it with friends later. Lastly, in the event that you DO end up speed dating someone you know from book club, don't worry! Use the time to learn something about them you might not know and as a temporary breather from having to meet strangers. Above all, though, look engaged and friendly and don't start checking your phones. You'll still be around other people you may end up speed dating (or who may contact you later), and you don't want to give off a rude or off-putting impression.

Now, how can you prepare for speed dating? First off, before the event, you may wish to log into the online system and upload a photo and write a brief profile.

  • Photos should be recent (since they're mostly going to be used to recognize you after having met you), have a clear view of your face, and happy (ideally with you smiling or laughing). Since we only get 1 photo (as opposed to several on an online dating profile), I'd recommend the photo be of just you, rather than a group, so it's easy to pick you out. And the Internet says to avoid anything that looks too boozy. Also, based on what I've seen and heard, I'd suggest that guys avoid any photos that look like they're either a player (e.g. with gorgeous women hanging off them or making out with them) or hung up on an ex. I'd also suggest women avoid any photos with kids that are not their own.
  • The online profile i's only 500 characters, so there's not a ton of space to work with, but try to be interesting and concise and straightforward (i.e. say what you mean and mean what you say). Remember that it's supposed to trigger someone's memory and help stand you apart. There's no need to try too hard to come off as clever or funny, let it come naturally. I'd also generally avoid anything that might come off as too braggy or conversely as too self-deprecating or lacking in confidence. Here's a good list of words to avoid in your profile. I'd say just bear in mind that some virtues are better demonstrated rather than stated outright.

Finally, for the event itself, I'm a strong believer that the biggest problem with speed dating is that it's often the same conversation over and over again, and that even if you meet the most interesting man (or woman) in the world on your 12th date, your eyes may have already glazed over and your brain may have shut down.

I think more unconventional questions can generate better answers and info, pique the other person's interest, and make the date more memorable in both of your minds. Here's a list I've put together (tweaked a bit from a speed dating event I ran years ago) that you may find helpful.
Group Organizer
Fairfax, VA
Post #: 889
With speed dating over, I wanted to post some guidance/suggestions for what to do from here. Most of you may know all these (many are common sense), but I'm putting this up in case it's of any help.

Again, I'm in no way claiming expertise; this is based on experience running similar things (and observing pitfalls) as well as the distilled wisdom of the Internet. This is lengthy, but I tried to make it comprehensive but skimmable.

If you haven't yet, log in to the online system to create your profile and upload a photo. You may have really impressed someone, but they may not remember you by name and badge # alone.

Then, use the Mutual Match system and select people you were interested in. If they select you as well, you'll both receive an e-mail letting you know you're a mutual match.

Some people may be tempted to select EVERYONE they met just to see who selects them back. I would strongly advise against that, unless you found every single person you met to be genuinely interesting and someone you want to get to know a little better. If that's not the case, then it's disrespectful towards the attendees you have no interest in.

Don't set too high a bar for who you select as a mutual match. Selecting someone doesn't in any way imply you want to be in a relationship with them. In my opinion, it doesn't even imply that you want to go out on a date with them. It's just an indicator that you may want to communicate with them a little more to get to know them better than 4 minutes allowed. So don't hesitate to check people you're not sure of; I’d just avoid checking anyone you know has a dealbreaker or that you have zero potential for attraction towards.

Don't be discouraged or offended if you don't get any mutual matches. Not everyone will use that feature, and not everyone will have a clear enough memory to remember who they liked or connected with. Regardless of who is a mutual match, you can send a message to anyone you dated (limited to 500 characters).

For follow-up messages, some suggest asking for a date. Personally, I think it's a little too soon to push hard for a date. 4 minutes and a short profile isn't enough to tell me if I want to spend an evening with someone. If you'd prefer to ask for a date, consider that you may scare someone off by forcing a decision too early and you may disadvantage yourself by not taking more time to sell the other person on the idea.

Follow up messages should be polite, light in tone, and include some simple reminder of what you talked about on your date to jog the person's memory: "After thinking over that question about my dream vacation, I should have answered Fiji." or "The great new space opera I mentioned is Leviathan Wakes by S.A. Corey". An intriguing comment is useful, too: "I work as an actuary, but I'm also a volunteer firefighter" or "I love cooking, volunteer for the humane society, and am learning parkour"; something quintessentially you but fit for social consumption. Then include your e-mail address and say you'd love to hear from them.

If responding to a message from someone you're not interested in, polite, direct, and firm are always best.

Don't freak out or leave additional messages if they don't write back immediately or even at all. The entire point of speed dating is low pressure/low stakes. Don't throw that away in the final round. And if someone isn't interested (whether through silence or written in a message), I'd strongly advise that you do not ask for their reasoning. No good can come of it. Even if you get it, having to persuade someone that you're worth liking is not an auspicious start to a relationship. Moreover, the other person is under no obligation to explain themselves to you or defend their decision. Even if you ask politely "I'd like to improve; can you tell me what made your decision?"'s really not their problem or duty to help your development, though it's an admirable goal. If you really are curious, talk through what you did with your friends of the opposite gender. They can probably help you break it down for analysis.

It's generally presumed that guys take the lead in contacting the women in a mutual match. But ladies, please don't hesitate to defy conventional expectations!

If you do set up dates, remember that some of the people at speed dating are friends and will probably not be impressed to find out you've booked one for Friday, one for Saturday, and one for Sunday. So while you may want to open up communication with multiple people, it might be wise to ask for and pursue dates in sequence rather than parallel.

Do not stalk someone on social networks and friend/add them uninvited/unprompted. It's rather inappropriate, and the other person may not want you on their friend list until you're (a) legitimately likely to stay friendly, or (b) actually dating. Seriously, this would raise the creep flag to full mast for a lot of people.

Please don't feel like just because you knew somebody prior, you shouldn't select them as matches or get to know them better. We're a group of awesome people, so it should come as no surprise if some of the more awesome people you talked to are fellow members. Just be cool, be respectful of each other's feelings (or lack) and privacy, and if things don't take off or don't work out, don't break book club. Seriously, that wouldn't be cool and will most definitely incur the wrath of the Mob and myself, among other more dire and debilitating consequences. angry

Following up soon will likely work out better for you (it shows more genuine interest and the memory of the speed dates is fresher in everyone's mind), and that the online system for mutual matches and messaging is only available until Nov 15. If nothing pans out, don't be discouraged! It's great that all of us put ourselves out there, and not finding a suitable partner out of a mere 21 matches doesn't change the magnitude of your awesomeness.

I'm going to open up this thread to replies for any comments you want to share on your speed dating experiences and questions on following up. If you have feedback you'd like me to pass on to Professionals in the City, that would be great too. Please do not use any names or identifying information. That would be crass and inappropriate. Absolutely do not publicly call someone out or disparage them for not matching you or returning a message or for otherwise disappointing your expectations. I will seriously flip my shit if that should happen, up to and including banning a member. If you need, try to speak in generalities and hypotheticals, and remember that given the science fiction and fantasy community, a huge chunk of the attendees either are active members of our group or may join.
  • Appropriate: "I liked a girl, but I think I gave her a poor impression. Is there a way to write a message to pique her interest?"
  • Inappropriate: "Han Solo is an epic douche who didn't give me the time of day and is completely ignoring my 8 messages. How completely rude, you Wookie-loving deadbeat nerf-herder. Find some deoderant and a ship that doesn't look like a Transformer had diarrhea!"

Hope this helps!
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