Beth Cook is a personal coach and writer. Want advice? Have advice? Send her an email.

The task of writing an online dating profile is a daunting one.  How do you capture the essence of YOU in a few short lists and paragraphs? How do you sound confident without sounding full of yourself? How do you pepper the profile with humor and wit?

One way to overcome profile block is to have an online dating profile party. In other words, invite a couple of close friends over and edit each other’s profiles over drinks. I did just this last night and it was fantastically helpful—and fun.

There were four of us, three single gals, one taken (my friend, the queen of successful online dating).

First, we took turns pouring over each other’s summaries and photos. One gal had a superbly written profile, though her “You should message me if...” got lengthy, and she had a couple of superfluous photos. One friend’s profile was sparse, so we helped her populate fields with witty comments. My own profile was too resume-like; advice to me was that I needed to show more of my playful side. We found that each of our profiles could use a little improvement, but for all of us, it wasn’t quite as much as expected (phew!).

You should also use this opportunity to plumb for good online dating advice. Share your tips and recommendations, the things you find challenging. Someone else probably has a good idea on how to handle. Aside from wondering if we were accurately describing ourselves, for example, we found our primary concern was how to respond to people (and who). If you’re a woman, you get a mini flood of messages upon immediately joining an online dating site—usually from people you don’t have all that much in common with. The messages themselves, however, are encouraging.

Us three gals posed a couple of questions about this to our seasoned online dater (who is now living with her OkCupid man):

Q: Do you respond to the dudes who write one-liners (sans polite greeting or name)?

A: Yes, as long as they are personal (i.e. they ask you a question about yourself that relates to your profile).

Q: What do you say back?

A: Answer the question and ask a question of your own about their profile.

Q: How long should this email conversation go on?

A: Just back and forth a couple of times. Then one person should suggest a date by writing: “I’d love to hear more about XYZ. Let me know if you’d like to grab a drink.”

In other words, it doesn’t really matter what the back and forth messages are about (they simply serve as an icebreaker), but it is crucial to get offline as soon as possible. Meeting in person is the ONLY way to determine chemistry. There is no sense in getting too chummy with someone beforehand. You might be very disappointed when you meet your new BFF in person and realize that the thought of making-out with them inspires a cringe.

By the end of the night we were full of wine, Thai food, good profile ideas and dating excitement. Us single gals had each responded to a couple of guys that had sent us messages—furthering the conversations and the chances of potential dates. We reminded each other to be open-minded and to keep the process of dating light-hearted and fun. And we left as closer friends. 

Now that’s what I call a good party.

Photo from U.S. National Archives and Records Administration