By Karla Stephens-Tolstoy

The emerging alternative to dating sites has become social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Each of these sites are free to join and let you chose as many “friends” as you like, with little or no limitations on communication. If you have a particular Romeo in mind, social media can provide some great avenues for making a connection:

Related: Five Ways Social Media Can Help Your Relationship

Facebook

Facebook’s benefit certainly comes in the numbers.  With everyone and their aunt as an active member, this service can connect you with virtually anyone.  A good option with FB is freely being able to browse the friends of friends.  This can even allow you to spot potential catches, and have the mutual friend set up a blind date.  The How To’s of Facebook are pretty simple, especially if you have a target in mind:

1. Locate their page.
2. Do some intelligence gathering: Find out his online m.o. to best target when and how to reach him.
3. Consider commenting on posts and topics that they follow as a way of introducing yourself.
4. Determine ahead of time what you will and will not share.
5. Set casual goals for each contact: sharing more, getting personal, moving to the next step (a phone call), meeting in person, etc…
6. Have a line of conversation ready to go before initiating contact.
7. Plan your attack and execute your approach.

Related: Q&A: How Can Social Media Help My Long Distance Relationship?

Twitter

Twitter is an odd beast, as some barely touch it while others live and breathe by the tweets.  It can offer a nice window into the thought process of a prospect. The trick with Twitter is to make your characters count and your creativity shine.

1. Research the topics and people they follow for a shared interest.
2. Plan your approach, whether through direct or shared contact.
3. Be pithy, it’s part of the appeal: The limit of 140 characters requires tight, single statements. Back and forth attempts here seem forced and out of place.
4. Steer the communication to a fuller venue like email, Facebook.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn serves as the largest professional town square online. A lot of informed daters look to this as the go-to fact sheet on a subject. It can say a lot about a person beyond their education and work history. This is great for cold calling, or looking for love without a lead.

1. Determine the type of professional and location for whom you are looking.
2. Find the LinkedIn groups that meet that criteria.
3. Comb the member lists for those groups.
4. Research any potential prospects through social media before contact.
5. Send him a connection request.
6. Consider sending an InMail (internal message) introducing yourself.

The one certainty of social media is that it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. Platforms rise and fall in popularity, but this would appear to be the new phone book/nightclub of our times. For good or bad, it’s having a direct effect on how people meet up, and your presence there can make all the difference.

Karla Stephens-Tolstoy is CEO & Founder of Tokii — an online relationship management platform designed to help busy couples stay connected. Karla is a business and brand maverick, skilled in building start-ups and building brand management teams in North America, Asia and Europe.