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Don't let a lack of familiarity keep you from participating in online dating.

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Last year alone, twice as many marriages occurred between men and women who met online than took place among couples who met in bars, clubs and at other social events combined.

If you've been considering taking the plunge into Internet dating but aren't quite sure how to get started, here are my nine key tips to ensure that your experience is a positive, safe and successful one.• Tip #1: If you're not familiar with technology or unsure what to write on your profile, ask a younger friend, relative or co-worker to help you.

Most online dating sites also offer tips to help you get started.• Tip #2: Be completely honest in your profile and photo.

You don't want to lie about your age, your background or your personality.

Not everyone will take this advice, but you don't want to start a relationship on a lie, and somewhere down the road, others will know that you aren't what you say you are (or you don't look like your photo).• Tip #3: Many online dating sites are tailored to specific interests.

These days, there are dating sites for every type of person and interest.

During a phone chat you'll get a better sense of whether your personalities click.

Also, by taking it slow, you are more likely to see inconsistencies in their behaviors and actions.• Tip #7: When you are ready to meet, arrange to do so in a busy public place, like a coffee shop, bookstore or other retail outlet.

Don't have your date pick you up or drive you home.

It's a good idea to let someone else know your plans, where you're going, what time, and your date's name.

For example, Black People appeals to individuals looking for a partner based on racial preference; JDate is a popular place to go for Jewish singles.

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