(DO) Attend an event that offers 3-5 minutes dates.
Speed Dating events are offered anywhere from 3-12 minutes. While three minutes may seem like a really short amount of time when you're "dating" someone whose company you really enjoy, trust me when I say that 8+ minutes can seem like an eternity when having to talk 1-on-1 to someone who is super annoying. And you get a mix of both at most events. It really is a numbers game, but better to play it safe and not suffer through a bad date for any longer than you have to.
(DO) Try to attend an event based on more than just age-range.
Think about it. Are you more likely to fall for someone because they fall within a 28-35 age range, or because they meet your height requirement, enjoy the same pastimes or hobbies as you or perhaps even share your same political views? We all have relationship "deal-breakers" and that does not make us shallow. We're just NY singles that know what we want. If height is one of your "deal-breakers" and you register for a speed dating event for singles (25-35), you could very likely be paying for a singles event where you wouldn't be interested in any of the daters because they don't meet your height requirement. By registering to attend a themed event (i.e. Tall Singles, Democratic or Fitness Singles) you will increase the odds of hitting it off with someone.
(DO) Show up a little early.
Consider a "pre-game" drink at the bar to loosen up if needed. You only get three minutes to impress someone, you definitely don't want to be "all nerves" for your first couple of dates, so do what you need to do beforehand to relax and take the edge off.
(DO) Make sure you have a good, firm, solid handshake.
It is always good practice to shake hands when first introducing yourself to a new dater. Remember, you only get one chance to make a first-impression. Starting with a really bad handshake doesn't leave you much time to recover. You don't want to be remembered as "MARK- bad handshake guy".
(DO) Go into the evening with an open-mind.
There may be an event where you are NOT attracted to anyone in attendance. You may even come to that realization before the event begins! Even if that's the case, don't get negative or shut yourself off to the possibility of meeting someone. So maybe you don't meet your next boyfriend or girlfriend, but you could meet your next boss, best friend or workout partner. Don't close yourself off to the possibilities. Maintain a positive attitude and look at it as a networking opportunity.
(DO) Adhere to the recommended age range and event descriptions.
They say ‘age ain't nothing but a number', however people registering to attend an event for singles 25-35 will more likely than not be disappointed if you are 55 and register to attend. You're setting yourself up not to succeed and you will potentially aggravate other daters as they did not sign up to meet you. The same goes for themed events. If you're planning on attending a "Corporate America" event and you are currently a starving artist or unemployed you may want to rethink that decision.
(DO) Write your date's name down when you first meet them.
Everyone is different and some people aren't good at multitasking, i.e. taking notes and talking/listening to someone all at the same time. There's no requirement for how many notes you need to take on someone. It's really whatever you need to help remember them, which comes in handy if there are multiple people with the same first name or if someone doesn't have a picture on-line. So although notes are optional, it can really set a bad tone and give the wrong impression if upon initially meeting someone you don't at least write their name down. They may interpret you not writing their name down to mean you are not interested and therefore they may not be as inclined to share very much about themselves or try to find out anything about you.
(DO) Breathe friendly.
Always have gum or breath-mints on hand. You are going to be seated within close proximity of 10-25 "dates" and talking a mile a minute. That much ‘close vicinity talking' at high speeds can definitely contribute to unforeseeable halitosis. You definitely don't want to be without gum or mints midway through an event if your breath suddenly starts kicking. And if the single you're dating's breath is bad and if you have gum or mints handy, you're now able to offer them something to help them succeed! P.S. Don't chew your gum so aggressively that it becomes annoying or distracting.
(DO) Check yourself before you "wreck" yourself.
With Speed Dating you have a VERY limited amount of time to make a good first impression. If you sit-down and start talking with something stuck in your teeth or nose it can be VERY distraction. Just give yourself a quick once-over or have your friend give you a check prior to starting.
(DON'T) Drink TOO much.
And end up being sloppy during your dates or slurring your words and/or saying or doing something you may later regret.
(DON'T) Sit down at your "table" prior to an event starting.
The way Speed Dating works is the women stay seated at the same table for the entire night and the men rotate. Therefore, for a woman to sit down at her table upon arriving at the event is a bad, "rookie" move to make. By immediately sitting at your table you are risking creating an opening for your first "date" of the night to come sit by you prior to the event starting which means, you may have already gone on a "30-minute" date before the event even starts! This isn't a problem if you're into the guy, but if you're not, it can be really painful and awkward. You're going to be seated the majority of the time anyway, so hang out at the bar and mingle with everyone else while you can. I definitely do not recommend sitting before the event formally starts.
(DON'T) Sit by someone you already know.
I know it may be more comfortable to sit next to the two girlfriends that you came to the event with, but it can be VERY intimidating for a guy to speed date a group of friends sitting right next to each other. Furthermore, the constant looks, comments and/or assessments from your friends may sway or disrupt your views of a guy. Lastly I've been to speed dating events where I didn't meet any guys but instead ended up hitting it off with the women sitting on either side of me. If you're sitting by women you already know, you're not going to meet any new "wing women". And who knows, you may be in the market for a new BFF sooner than you realized if the friend you came with hits it off with someone at the event.
(DON'T) Make it feel like a job interview.
Try to keep it relaxed and informal. If you came straight to an event after work wearing a suit and are sitting across from another suit, firing questions off in a formal, serious manner, speed dating can quickly start to feel like a string of super intense job interviews. To avoid this, try to dress a bit more casual as if you were going on a date and try to keep the conversation light. You don't want it to become an interrogation or start firing off super intense questions making it obvious you're going down your "checklist" of deal breakers. And smiling is very important and goes a long way to breaking the ice. Don't look intense or too serious. Relax and remember smiling is contagious!
(DON'T) Continue to "date" once the bell has sounded.
Maybe once or twice the conversation was just really "that good" and you were in your own little zone and didn't hear the bell, so you stayed seated and continued dating. However, don't let it happen too often as this causes a "dating" traffic jam, cuts into everybody's next date and has the potential to annoy others.
(DON'T) Dominate the conversation so your "date" can't get a word in.
This can totally happen on a normal date, but with Speed Dating it's more problematic and annoying as you are only working with 3-5 minutes. It's very easy to be long-winded and want to tell the person everything about yourself to impress them. However keep in mind you have a VERY short amount of time so even if you manage to miraculously get your whole life history out by the ding of the bell, you could end up not knowing anything about your date! It should really be an exchange of information, give and take. You definitely don't want him a write note about you like, "BRANDY- girl who wouldn't shut up".
(DON'T) Ask for someone else's digits or business card at the event.
Speed Dating is designed to be a non-pressure dating activity. Unlike meeting singles at a club or bar, at a Speed Dating event you should not be confronted with the potentially awkward situation of someone you're not interested in asking you for your number. Instead, if you want someone to know you like them during an event, maybe offer to buy them a drink or talk with them during a break.
(DON'T) Click someone as a "match" post-event if you have no intention of seeing them again.
Sometimes people feel obligated to check someone off as a "match" because they may have seemed like a nice person, however that is not what Speed Dating is about. Or it could be an "ego" thing, where you want as many people as possible to also click you as a "match" so you click them hoping they will reciprocate. Speed Dating is not a popularity contest, nor is it intended to be a self-esteem builder. Speed Dating is designed to help you find someone you want to see again and spend quality time with. When you click someone as a "match" because you thought they were nice, but don't have any intention of seeing them again, it sends mixed messages and leads to disappointment when you never follow up to ask them out.
"DESPERATE TIMES CALL FOR DESPERATE MEASURES"
If you didn't follow my tip about not going to an event where the dates are longer than five minutes and you find yourself on a painfully long date where you seriously want to scream, I would suggest an urgent, couldn't be avoided, bathroom break might be in order. Do not use this tactic too often, make it sound convincing and time it appropriately so you're back just in time for your date with the hot guy or girl seated next to them.
"KNOW BEFORE YOU GO"
If you get the sense that someone came with friends, it might be a good idea to confirm this notion as you may end up checking two women or men as a "match" that are friends and dating them both could be problematic.