New in Town | Daily Post

ImageI just moved to a new city and I’m keenly aware of the need to make new friends. This is my second move in 8 years for my current company and I have the benefit of what worked/didn’t work in our last city to build upon.

The biggest lesson I learned was to make sure and have lots of friends outside of my job. In our last teeny tiny city, my co-workers became the cornerstone of our social network. They were amazing, wonderful people for the most part. I’m still dear friends with a few and Facebook friends with many, but there are many problems with the friends@work thing.

Problem #1: Non-stop talking shop during social gatherings. Painful for spouses and not the best stress reliever.

Problem #2: Gossip. What happens after work becomes fodder for discussion at work.  With everyone.

Problem #3: Awkwardness as you/they move up/down the ladder or move around the organization.

Problem #4: Crazy awkwardness when people get fired or are performing poorly.

Problem #5: Double crazy awkwardness if those mentioned in Problem #4 suspect/believe that you had anything to do with their situation.

Of course there are good things about work friends, too.  My favorite benefit is when I’m having a work-related crisis, they can come up to speed on my issue and offer advice or empathy quickly because they get it.  The short-hand of someone who knows they lay of the land is a huge help when the going gets tough.

Outside of work, here are my recommendations based on my experiences the past 6 months:

  1. Join a church. Some of our favorite people and deepest relationships in our last city were friends from our Bible Study small group. Knowing we could find a church and connect in this way was one of the things that gave us confidence to move again. We have landed in a small group and are enjoying getting to know this new set of brothers and sisters in Christ. They are wonderful people.
  2. Say Yes. We have been fortunate to have received several invitations and I/we have consciously leaned in and said Yes to the following:
    1. Bunko
    2. Zumba
    3. A neighborhood Christmas party
    4. Attending the annual homeowners association (HOA) meeting
    5. Volunteering to serve on the HOA board (my husband thought I was CRAZY!)
    6. Hosting the quarterly HOA board meeting
    7. Going to a brand new neighbor’s New Year’s Eve party based on an email blast to the HOA
    8. Attending all of my son’s lacrosse games
    9. Going to a new acquaintances restaurant
    10. Coming Soon (Hot Yoga!)
  3. Throw a party. We were inspired by the new neighbors who moved in Christmas weekend and then managed to host a New Year’s party just a few days later. They motivated us to put our last few unpacked boxes in the garage and start entertaining. We have hosted a small new acquaintance dinner party in February and then a larger party with about 20 neighbors for St. Patty’s. We also had a pot-luck with our new small group. We are looking forward to summer barbecues and keeping the festivities going.
  4. Rekindle old friendships. One of the biggest blessings of moving here has been the opportunity to reconnect with a childhood friend who just happened to move to this same metropolitan area 6 months ahead of me. (thank you Facebook!) She is everything you would want in a dear friend and I can’t believe we haven’t been hanging out the past 40 years.
  5. Don’t forget about your old friends. With Skype, texting, Facebook and hands free cellular built into the steering wheel of my car, it is easier to stay connected with my geographically challenged friends than ever. As much as I look forward to the new friends God puts in my path, I treasure the oldies but goodies, too. Occasionally when I feel lonely and wonder why I’m not beating new friend requests off with a stick, I think about the people I hold near and dear and the mutual respect and love we share. I must be doing something right to have these amazing people in my life.

As part of my Happiness Project I will devote the entire month of June to the quest for new friends.  So I have two months to devise a game plan. One resource I hope will generate multiple new ideas is my next audio book.  Looks like a fun listen!

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Daily Post | Why Can’t We Be Friends

Who’s a Good Boy? | Daily Prompt

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Daily Prompt:  Make Me Smile

There are many things that make me smile.  Overall, I am a smiler!   Being greeted by these two faces when I walk in the door always lifts my mood.  I like to take my coat off, set my purse down and immediately lay down on the living room rug and let them kiss my face.  Sometimes I “fake” fight them off.  It is a great ritual and a fun transition from my work life to my home life.  My family isn’t bad either, but they don’t literally jump for joy when they see me.

 

 

 

Get to Work

successMore tips for success at the workplace.

This is part 2 of the behaviors I tracked for my month-long focus on work for my Happiness Project.

  1. Make a note of it. A senior executive once said to me, “You always do what you say you will do.” A big part of that is my inner rules follower and personal commitment to keep my word, but good intentions don’t always equate to remembering to do things. My secret to following through is simple, keep a small notebook with me and write things down. I am generous with my pages and don’t try to squeeze too much on each sheet. I use checkboxes to highlight items that require my action. It is amazingly effective and a top tip I tell new folks as they enter the workforce.  I’ve had many come back to me years later and say Thank You. I recently attempted to go all digital and lose the paper and pen. It didn’t work. I forgot things, I felt like I was slipping. Studies show that the act of physically writing imprints more information on your brain. If I really need something from my paper notebook in my digital files, I just take a picture of the page.  Problem solved.
  2. Build relationships. People matter. I take the time to get to know people, to serve them and not care if I get served in return.  I strive to be a good collaborator and to openly praise people and remind them of their strengths. The result has always been that people enjoy working with me. This has been key to my success.  But I have to work at it. Sometimes I may feel like avoiding an introductory meeting or a networking event, but I know these are good for me and feed my soul. So I go. aloveCase in point:  Recently a new employee set up a one on one meeting with me and we had a few hiccups in scheduling. I told her where I would be (in a remote office) and her back-to-back meet everyone on the project in one week schedule caused her to not be able to find me. We ended up starting late and talking on the phone versus talking in person. I was frustrated, but I took a deep breath and opened my heart and mind to this woman. I gave her my best wisdom on being successful at our company. Starting with not over-scheduling herself and guarding her calendar (and her time) like the precious non-renewable resource that it is. She shared that God was moving in her life bringing her to our city, this company, this project. I went out on a limb and asked her if she had found a local church. She had only been in town 2 weeks so she hadn’t. She attended my church that weekend and followed up with me that she loved it. We’ve bumped into each other several times and have formed a loving bond. This past week, we happened to be at a networking event with about 12 other ladies and as we all went around the table to introduce ourselves and share our experiences of women helping women, she praised me in front of everyone for being so kind to her in that initial meeting.  She said my advice had saved her life and that I was key to her success and sanity at work so far. She even shared that I had invited her to church! My heart sang. We don’t do good works for the praise, we never know when we will reap what we sow, but having this amazing woman speak from her heart about how I had made a difference in her life gave me encouragement to keep investing in people. I have now established a regular mentoring relationship with her and have a sister in Christ for life.
  3. Anticipate the next move. Using an overly simplified example, sometimes the answer to the question “Do you have the time?” is just plain “Yes.”  But those occasions are rare and more than likely will frustrate the asker. If you want to truly demonstrate that you add strategic value, you answer the first question and anticipate the next one, or prevent the next one.  “Yes, the time is 12:30. Here let me show you how you can find the time out for yourself going forward.” Or, “that is interesting that you are asking me the time, is there a fundamental issue that is keeping you from knowing the time that I can help you solve?”  Teach people to fish. Understand the problem behind the question. Save people steps. time_to_be_happyAnother concept I weave into this theme is to respond versus react. Using the same goofy time example, I could easily have an inner-dialogue along the lines of “why is he/she asking ME for the time? I’m not their time keeper, it isn’t my job to tell them the time. They could figure that out themselves, they are just lazy. They don’t value me to waste my time with stupid, tactical questions like this.” It is important to shut down that inner-critic and breathe. A more constructive dialogue would be: “I’m feeling a little annoyed they asked me this stupid question.  Let me put myself in their shoes and not over-react. They must be very out-of-sorts to ask me this. They must think I’m a safe person to ask. I’m going to leverage this opportunity to build our relationship and be helpful.”
  4. Master your business.  Study something new every day. keep-calm-and-study-on-poster_768x1147No matter what your business you can always know more about it. What do your competitors do? What are the industry best practices? Everyone is using that new buzzword.  I wonder what it really means? Use the internet to continue your education. Take a few minutes each day and research something online, you will be amazed what you can find. I do this to find cool Powerpoint slides all the time!
  5. Add to the resume. Keeping your resume updated is like exercising every day, easier said than done. Turning your many work achievements into the right bullet points to capture your audience is a daunting task. aaares One thing I’ve started doing is regularly reading job descriptions and grabbing key phrases. I store these on my computer and refer to them as my marching orders for getting my job done. Why yes, I am “comfortable in a fast-moving environment with rapid, incremental deliveries and direct customer feedback” and I excel at “driving cross-team partnerships to deliver impactful end-to-end scenarios.”  Knowing these are the qualities companies are looking for helps me squeeze more out of each work moment and improve my skills. I’m not just participating in another meeting, I’m driving cross-team partnerships! I’m not gearing up for yet another round of external complaints, I’m building on my ability to process and manage direct customer feedback. It’s all about perspective.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy_and_successful@Work (part 1)

results

This month as part of my Happiness Project, I’m focusing on improving my work life.

I have outlined 10 behaviors for workplace domination.  I am holding myself accountable by tracking specific actions against each of these in a daily journal. After 1 week, I already feel like I am upping my corporate game. As work is serious business, I’m going to go deep on each area and split this across 2 posts.

Here are my first 5 strategies for success at work:

1. Mentally and physically prepare. Who is kidding who here? I don’t bolt out of bed and dance around my bedroom in the morning overcome by the excitement of going to my corporate job each day. I have a high stress position and I’d rather be on a beach in the Bahamas or playing tennis in Palm Springs than going into the cubicle battlefield.  (and I totally get that vacations cost money)armor

Not to mention, some/many of the people I work with are not exactly in the running for Mr. or Ms. Congeniality.  I have to put on the full armor of God every day to be victorious in my workplace and be an ambassador for the Lord. I’ve developed a new morning routine that consists of 5 minutes of meditation, prayer, simple stretches and then listening to the Bible or an inspirational message on my drive into work. Also, I’m taking my vitamins and eating right. I can’t expect amazing output without amazing input. Garbage in, garbage out.

2. Dress for success. In the modern workplace, business casual has sunken to new lows. It is easy to fall into a trap of dressing for comfort instead of dressing like the future CEO.claire

I have a closet full of beautiful business clothes but have fallen into a rut of jeans, long wrap-around sweaters that could double as bathrobes and comfortable mom shoes. Just like I want to tell people who wear pajama pants to the grocery store I need to also tell myself, “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should!”

I am officially stepping it up with dresses, jackets, beautiful blouses, slacks and skirts. Important people look important. To add to my pulled together look I’m flat ironing my new fierce hairdo versus letting it run wild and curly. I’m also spending an extra few minutes improving my make-up techniques (Pinterest is great for age-appropriate tips and tricks).  Claire Underwood is not my character role model, but she is my new style icon. Note to self:  buy some bigger specs, go even blonder as summer approaches, lose 20 pounds.

3. At the beginning of each week, write down 3-5 strategic goalsThe most successful person I know does this.  prio

It is easy to have your schedule slip away from you with meetings, hallway randomizations and emails.  My theory is that I am not being paid to answer emails, I’m being paid to deliver business value.

I set goals that move my business forward each week and track progress against them daily. This helps me prioritize and connect dots while I’m in meetings or answering those pesky emails. I am not saying don’t answer them, I’m saying learn how to answer the right ones first.  Anything that furthers my strategic goals should be top of mind and top of the priority list.

4. Embrace my inner executive.  This is my version of fake it until you make it. It is important to show up as a confident, knowledgeable person with a clear and insightful point of view.  Again, the company is paying for my expertise and capability. I may not know everything, but I can show up daily as a valuable contributor who is learning and growing.  Some of the ways I demonstrate these qualities include:  speaking up in meetings, asking strategic questions, not being afraid to disagree or offer an opposing argument and showing that I have a bold and strategic vision for our work.  Boardroom

My workplace mantra: “I am in tune with what is going on in the industry and the marketplace. I have valuable experience that I share willingly and warmly.  I am in a senior role and I have not only earned a seat at the table, I own the table.” 

5. Manage up and out.  My boss and my skip-level boss are nowhere near me 99% of the time.  Yet these two people decide my fate at the company. They need to be my biggest fans and I am the only one who can equip them with the data (results) that compel them to join and stay in my fan club.

manage

To create raving fans, I need to know and understand what my bosses and other key stakeholders value and expect out of my role and then find ways to blow their expectations out of the water.

If you are not getting to where you think you should be in your career, maybe it is because you are focusing too much energy on clearing the bar and not enough on inventing a new one.  Meeting expectations is never enough.  I need to demonstrate how my contributions and results are better than my leaders could have done themselves.  I know as a boss, how wonderful it is to have an employee bring me a piece of work that is much better than I could have done and that requires no re-work.  I talk up and reward those who I can trust to deliver these types of results.

Once I’ve exceeded the target, I look for opportunities to market these accomplishments with my leadership and make it simple for them to market them on my behalf.  I have yet to meet a boss who doesn’t want to share amazing results up the food chain.  It makes them look good.  It is easy to focus on activity versus achievement, always prioritize that which drives a specific and exceptional outcome versus that which just takes up time.

The Right Stuff

For my February Happiness Project, I focused on 10 daily behaviors that would serve my marriage.  Key among these were a few that focused on being a good partner versus being right.

Here is my scorecard on how I performed.  The thing that stands out the most and that I will take forward above the others was the virtuous cycle that is set in motion by choosing grace.

Feb Scorecard

I was going to go through the month without telling my husband about my focus.   That all changed one day in the car when he said something that he knew was controversial and waited for me to react and take the bait. I sat silently and just let his words hang in the air. As I sat there peacefully, instead of assuming I was choosing not to argue he accused me of giving him the silent treatment! This was great insight into how I must normally behave.  I like to be right.  I like to manage my husband and wear the bossy pants. I like to think I’m smarter than everyone including him.  It was eye-opening for me that it was easier for him to see me as punishing him versus recognizing that I was loving him and showing him grace. book So I told him I was working on marriage for my Happiness Project and had revisited the many lessons learned in our marriage-changing workshop on Love and Respect.  I told him I was being respectful and apologized for previous behavior that made him jump to the conclusion that my silence was a punishment.

From that moment forward, we have had a different dialogue.  There has been a lightness to the way we engage with one another.  He laughs when he sees I am choosing not to complain or argue. My decisions not to react have caused him to pause and evaluate what he just said that warranted me biting my tongue.  He has apologized and laughed at himself when he gets heated versus feeling it is his right to behave any way he wants or that somehow I have caused him to act that way. 

The results have been improved cooperation and communication in our household.  As I serve him, he is motivated to serve me right back. Letting go of needing to be right in the moment has paid huge benefits of helping my marriage be on the right track in the big picture.  Happiness Project month 2 has been a success.

The Good Wife

Happiness Project - Marriage MonthI remain committed to my happiness project and this month’s focus is all about my funny Valentine.  I’m upping my game on my marriage.

My husband is a wonderful man.  Like so many (ALL) of us, he isn’t perfect, but he is the answer to my prayers.  He is a Godly and humble man with a positive outlook.  He would lay down his life for his family and will do anything to serve or protect us.  He is smart, capable, considerate, selfless and funny.  He has a level of integrity that continues to amaze and inspire me and at 48, he is still a total hunk.  What’s not to love?

He deserves a month of extreme good-wife-y-ness and I’m going to give it to him.  Here are my new habits for February.

  1. Don’t nag, my schedule isn’t his schedule. He is going to do it when he is going to do it.  I tend to notice a task needs to be done around the house and I ask him to do it without respecting what he’s doing.  We talked about creating a better system to get things done and settled on communicating about the honey-do list via email.  I’m pleased with the results so far.
  2. Check in each day via a text, email or phone call.  My husband and I have very similar, self-sufficient personalities and we don’t need to talk several times a day. But a phone call or text to say I’m thinking of you would be a bright spot in the day. I need all of the bright spots I can get!
  3. Show affection coming and going.  Hugs and kisses hello and goodbye are such an easy thing. I realized a few weeks ago that somehow this had become a not every day thing.  It is back on the everyday list now.
  4. Make him laugh.  We have always had similar senses of humor and we find the same things funny. I’ve challenged myself to share/do/observe something chuckle-worthy every day. I also, make it a point to laugh at his or my son’s jokes. The sound of all of us laughing is music to my ears.
  5. Choose grace.  My significant other has his moments. Trust me, I’m no picnic either. For the month of February, I’m burning my membership card to the legion of the easily offended and am biting my tongue.  I don’t care what he says or does, I’m going to react with grace, humor or worst case scenario walking into another room.
  6. Just do it.  I admit that I am guilty of procrastinating when my hubby asks me to or suggests I do something.  “I’m so busy” has been a handy excuse to ignore requests.  I’m focusing on doing it as soon as he asks and with a smile.
  7. Listen and give him my full attention when he’s talking.  I am sure I am not the only one who sits with the laptop open and pounds away at the keys thinking I’m somehow participating in family life. I miss a lot doing this.  On all fronts.
  8. No complaining.  My husband is an amazing cook and cooks me dinner almost every night (I am the primary breadwinner).  However, some nights I turn my nose up at the dinner I didn’t have to lift a finger to prepare.  Too fattening!  We just had that!   So ungrateful, That is just bad form.  Another thing I complain about is his questionable taste in television shows. Why are reality shows based in Alaska so popular all of a sudden?  I don’t win the battle for the remote control anyway, so I’m not going to complain about it.
  9. Praise him.  This is an easy one.  He does great things every day.  I’m proud of the man he is every day. Consciously expressing it makes me happy.
  10. Serve him.  My husband is a true renaissance man and he can do just about anything.  He can cook, manage our finances, install new flooring and carry a new toilet up 2 flights of stairs so when he needs me to help him, I will be his willing and eager helper.  I am committed to proactively finding ways to serve him and lighten his load.

All the Single Ladies! — Online dating advice in time for V-Day

As we head into Valentine’s Day, I thought I would play Cupid by offering my personal online dating tips.

This is what worked for me and maybe it could work for you, too.

I am an educated and driven career woman who wanted a husband and a family to share and enjoy life with.  I realize that not everyone wants this, but I sure did and I would love to help anyone out there who is in the same situation but maybe needs just a little nudge to go look.

I didn’t settle on who came across my path, I went out looking for him…and I FOUND HIM.

My husband and I met during the pioneer days of internet dating sites.  It was a weird, untrusted and unknown phenomenon, with no track record yet.  Most people who participated did so under a cloak of secrecy, me included.

The ramblings below are the result of numerous tips from my best girlfriends and 1 year of personal trial and error online.

Figure out what you want in a man.  This is the hardest part. Understanding what you want and don’t want and what is good for you and NOT good in any way for you is critically important.  You hear nightmare stories of divas with superficial checklists.  I’m not saying make a list, I’m saying get your priorities straight.  Hint: Character is key.

Put yourself out there.  Find a site that is reputable and treats its members with dignity and dive in.  First thing you’ll need after a valid credit card is an accurate but flattering photo of yourself.  Great relationships are built on honesty. You want a man who is interested in you today not you 20 or 30 pounds or several laugh lines ago. Choose an appropriate and current photo.  It’s tempting to use that one photo from that time you had a stomach bug for 2 weeks and dropped 10 lbs that shows your cheekbones, but don’t.  He needs to be able to recognize you when you meet him in person.

Write a great profile.  Your profile should scream  “You want to meet me!  I’m a great catch!”  Be witty, be clever, be YOU.  Have a friend (or 2) review what you’ve written and give you feedback and then LISTEN TO THEM.  Remember that any man reading your profile already likes your picture so you need to keep his attention. Your words should show him you have your act together.  Be direct, be confident. Be careful not to sound bitter or jaded. Be positive. If positive doesn’t reflect who you are or where you are in life right now, should you be seeking a mate?

Who picks who?  Sites have different features that allow women and men to notify each other to express interest.  You will be tempted to select guys who you find interesting. Calm down missy. This is when you need to step into the feminine.  Let him pursue you.  You have made yourself available and that is all you need to do.  For the first 60 days, you can look all you want but you are only to interact with men that select you.  Yes, you read that right.  If, after 60 days of waiting, no one has picked you or you have no reasonable prospects of a date, please start over with a new picture and/or profile or try other sites.  Maybe one of the niche sites (Christian Mingle, Our Time, something local to your city) would be a better fit.  If you are truly drawn to someone and the 60 day waiting period has gone by, then gain the consent of at least one level headed girlfriend before contacting him one time.  Then, sit back and let him do the pursuing. No chasing.

OK, you’ve got some “hits” now what?  Evaluate carefully who you plan to respond to. You are not obligated.  I know this sounds harsh, but don’t worry about hurting anyone’s feelings at this point. As a woman you overly empathize with how it would feel to take the risk and pick someone and how awful it would be to never hear back from them or to be rejected.  But he’s not you and he’s not a woman. He can handle it. The guy you are stressing about letting down easily may have used a shot-gun method and picked 100 different women.

Also, keep your superficiality in check and get beyond the pictures.  Read profiles carefully and read between the lines. Once you have someone you’d like to engage with, run it by a friend. This serves two purposes:  it gets you a second set of eyes looking for red flags and it creates a built-in delay.  You are an amazing woman with a full life, you are not sitting and staring at your screen waiting for any form of contact. Give it a few hours girl.  When you do respond, resist the urge to exchange life stories via email and send a brief but warm and witty note.  Without being reckless, your goal is to minimize back and forth email chit chat and exchange phone numbers ASAP.  You are not looking for a virtual pen pal or a texting buddy. Once he follows through with a phone call (and can speak intelligently) suggest a meeting.  Don’t dominate the decision making but a cup of coffee or a glass of wine sure does sound nice.  Remember to meet someplace safe and public with lots of other people around.  More tips on safety later.

Prepping for the first meeting.  Pull together a first date outfit, one that your girlfriends approve of.  You want something that you feel feminine in and that a healthy male will appreciate.  A wise girlfriend once told me to always wear a dress or a skirt on the first date and to wear soft, touchable fabrics on top.  Don’t dress like Miley Cyrus but No Turtlenecks.  In addition to a great outfit, you need a great attitude for that first date, too. Establish a first date mantra and use it to get pumped up:  You are a great woman with much to offer. You are the whole package. You are going to rock this date!

During the date.  Break out the witty banter. The lighter you can make this, the better. Remember this is a mutual decision point where you both have the right to say Yes or No to another date so relax.  Ask him about himself and make sure he asks (and is interested) in YOU.  Conversation starter: Talk about the online dating experience. Trust me this topic alone can fill an evening. Steer clear of traditional first date taboos: old boyfriends, ticking biological clocks, your Pinterest board for your someday wedding and any discussion of more than 1 cat.

Who pays?  As the date comes to an end, let him pay. This may sound old fashioned but again, this is my strategy for finding a man and men pay for first dates. If things work out, you’ll have your entire lives to split things 50/50. Don’t emasculate him. If it looks like there will be a next time, offer to get the next one.

Do I kiss him?  I leave this entirely up to you but I remind you that you don’t owe anyone anything. You didn’t tell him to order the $100 dollar bottle of wine (this story will have to be a future post!).  Also, remember that he may be going out on 10 dates in 2 weeks (as was the case with my husband — again another future post) so don’t do anything that feels unnatural to you and your values. Personally, I don’t kiss people I’ve only known a few hours but I do hug them. I’m a hugger.  I could work up a hug for my worst dates.  It was nice to meet them, I wished them well on their journey and they were helping me on mine. Totally hug-worthy.  I may never hear from them again (nor want to) so my philosophy was to not give away kisses but to embrace the hug.

What next?  You decide if you are Yes, Maybe or No on going on a second date.  You may know immediately or you may need to talk it through with a girlfriend.  You should know what you want to happen before you consider what he wants.

You think Yes, he never contacts you again.  With online dating, he can find you if he wants to. There is no “maybe he lost my number.”  If you never hear from him, it’s his loss.  Learn from it if you can and move on.

He says Yes, you say No.  If you don’t want to see him again and he reaches out for that second date, then end it gracefully.  Don’t waste his time or yours.  Isn’t that what you’d want?  My process involved a nice email note via the site a day or two later that said it was great meeting you but I had met someone else with serious relationship potential that I wanted to focus on.  (see how nicely this is set up by discussing the online dating experience on the date!)  You did not start this process to find new friends so I do not encourage remaining “friends” with any of your online dates.  He has expressed interest in you that you don’t have for him.  Is that the basis for a valuable friendship?  Wish him the absolute best in life, but don’t take him on as a friend.

When the Yes and Maybe guys reach out  (bonus points for timely contact and double bonus points if they compliment you or reference something you said on the date) say Yes and set up the next meeting.  Again in a public place.  Don’t forget to offer to treat.

Safety tips.  Unfortunately, safety concerns are a top reason people view online dating negatively.  It is understandable because the one thing an online date typically does not have that most regular dates do have is a mutual acquaintance.  Someone who says this guy checks out.  Because of this, I highly recommend using sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google to verify what your online prospects tell you about themselves.  With a few keystrokes you can verify a lot. Once the internet search criteria has been cleared, make sure to meet in public places, meet friends and family of theirs as appropriate, call them at the office or go to their place of work (a great way to do this is to offer to pick him up for a date near his workplace).  Have your friends meet him by inviting him to a group activity. Steer clear of anyone that does not want to share their world with you or be part of yours.  Also, as you suggest ways to meet in public that make you feel comfortable, he should encourage and embrace this versus poo-poo your concerns. Any man worthy of your time will bend over backwards to make you feel safe.

And then what happens?  After several dates, you may just have a budding relationship and the start of your forever romance.  Trust your instincts on when to take your profile off of the site. (a true sign that you are investing in him is taking yourself off of the market)  More bonus points for him if he does it first!