If what you want is a long-term relationship, approach it with your goals in mind.
The right mindset is key: Start out by knowing that you are in control of the process.2.
If you're looking online, do your profile with a friend -- this will help you lighten up. Be funny, short and concise, and don't sound too cutesy.
A photo that shows you actively pursuing an interest is good because it offers information without being wordy.3. Pick out three or four guys and signal your interest. Do not give advice even if he is begging for it; this is a bad way to start. On first dates, make sure you have other plans afterward and keep them, regardless of how things are going.
When you contact someone, refer to a remark he/she made in their profile. But limit your emails to no more than two or three before suggesting a face-to-face meeting. If you're underwhelmed with this person, you will have a good escape route.
If he emails or texts (or makes the extra effort to make a phone call!), respond, but move along and suggest meeting again.