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Pickup props to get that date- 22/09/2006
Doggie

Savvy marketing executives know you need a unique selling point to make a product stand out in a crowded market. And any salesperson worth their salt will tell you that a pitch can be won or lost in the first few seconds.

Now apply this logic to the dating game: how can you stand out in a bar? Research from the University of Chicago found people wearing red clothes are 15 times more likely to be noticed than those in mute colours. But if dressing like a tomato isn't your bag then you may need to get creative and find yourself a dating prop.

Take a dog out with you. They’re definitely the most successful props for the single urbanite

Breaking the ice
Not so long ago, I dislocated my shoulder while snowboarding - and haven't looked back since. With my arm in a sling, men were falling over each other to chat me up.

In fact, my shoulder injury got me five dates in six weeks. But after quizzing my caring suitors, I discovered it wasn't my helplessness that attracted them, it was simply that my injury was the ice-breaker.

'Your sling was the in,' remarked (somewhat cheesily) one of my dates, Scott. Instead of resorting to a dodgy chat-up line, he used the sling as a conversation opener.

Lisa, 24, a PR from Bristol likes boys in bands but, until recently, didn't have much success.

So, she tried an alternative approach: she bought a second-hand guitar and took it with her to bars.

'OK, so I can't play it yet,' she admits. 'But men always ask if I'm in a band and some have even offered to teach me.'

Her friends might tease her but her recent dating success helped her overcome her self-consciousness. 'The guitar is my perfect pulling prop and yes, I did score a boy in a band and a few others.'

Props can work for desperate boys, too. Jon, 28, a finance manager from London leaves the city behind on the warmer weekends and heads to the coast with his friends. So, it seemed logical to invest in a surfboard. 'Girls love surfers,' he says.

'I spend a lot of weekends at the beach, walking up and down with my board. I can always spot girls checking me out. Some even ask me how the waves were.'

This is a typical case of an aspirational prop: Jon's mate Dan, 27, a solicitor from Manchester says he's never seen him stand on the board for longer than ten seconds before crashing into the waves. Dan's prop, on the other hand, takes a little less effort: he wears a sailor's hat to clubs. 'Drunk girls can't resist grabbing it,' he says. 'It's like taking candy from a baby.'

Dating doctor Paul Ergatoudis of the Single Solution says it's all about being individual and appearing to others that you are an interesting person. 'We run singles' nights where we give the attendees a prop as they arrive,' he explains. 'They're ice-breakers. But choose your prop with care as it's seen as a reflection of your personality.'

A cunning plan
It's a technique that may seem hare-brained but it's strategic. 'You have to be proactive,' says Lisa. 'I'm not going to meet men by sitting in a corner with my mates. And I want someone who's as into music as I am.' Simon Dale of Snoglondon.com suggests taking it a little further: 'Take a dog out with you. They're definitely the most successful props for the single urbanite.'

OK, so getting a dog could be perceived as a little extreme: pets are for life after all. But, most props take a little less time, money and effort and won't ruin the carpet. I've decided to keep my sling and wear it out on special occasions - it's a bit deceptive, but my shoulder still hurts. Honest.


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