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Pick up on something in the woman or man's online profile to ask about, but keep it light and casual -- you don't want to come across as if you are interrogating!On the other hand, if you don't ask any questions you may not get any answers.
Once a conversation gets going, do not be tempted to believe everything that the other person says. This brings us on to the question of online safety.
If your second email does not elicit a reply, move on to somebody else.
But if you do get a reply, try to respond quickly -- nobody likes to be left hanging on, wondering, especially when meeting people for the first time.
But you should make this a starting point only in your search for the ideal woman or man.
Read beyond initial impressions, try to find a point of similarity with yourself, something you have in common, a shared hobby for instance.
You may not have much to go on when first contacting someone, as the online dating profiles are necessarily brief.