Those first moments of a new flirtatious conversation are just like an elevator pitch...

How To: Strike up a Conversation

Those first moments of a new flirtatious conversation are just like an elevator pitch, says Ryan Conway, real estate agent and networking director of Columbus Young Professionals Club. It's all about making a big impact in a little time. Here's how to make that one chance at a first impression count. -Beth Stallings

1. After spotting someone across the room, I walk over to chat. Where do I start?

Never with a cheesy pickup line, Conway says. Stick to a simple and confident introduction. "Say, 'I saw you across the room and you look interesting,' " he explains, adding you already share one thing in common with this stranger-you are both at this place at this time for a reason. So ask what brings her out. Find that "common denominator," as Conway calls it, and let the convo evolve from there.

2. OK, conversation started. Now what?

"Usually the conversations will go naturally if something's clicked," Conway says. Keep chatter light and easy, and don't put too much pressure on yourself-it's OK if this person isn't "the one." Interested in this person? Prove it by shutting up. It's about what he has to offer, too. So listen and respond.

3. The conversation isn't going well, but only I seem to notice. Is there a polite way to excuse myself?

"I think being straightforward and saying it was a pleasure talking to you
and have a good evening is the easiest way to do it," he says, adding if
the other person fails to catch the subtle cues, it's OK to be more direct-but always be polite. Thank him for his time and move on.

Dating Delima:Does online dating work?

Forget the desperation stigma attached to digital dating. "Using a service has become very normalized," assures Elizabeth Cobey-Piper, dating coach for Columbus-based matchmaking company Dating Directions. She shares a few virtual words of wisdom.-Amanda Pierce

Q. How can I get the most out of online dating?

A. [You] have to set aside at least four to eight hours a week in the beginning. It's sifting through people and trying to make connections-doing searches, reading profiles. People are writing emails back and forth and that takes time. It is a part-time job to do it right.

Q. What's the key to an attractive profile?

A. Get the best pictures of yourself you can. I always suggest people talk a little bit about their work, a little bit about things they enjoy outside of work. Think about things the opposite sex would enjoy knowing.