Jill Hinckley, 51
J Hinckley Introductions
For many women with a full-time job, children or other responsibilities, finding time to date can seem nearly impossible. At the same time, some women would argue that even scoring a worthy candidate is challenging.
That’s where so-called “matchmakers” come in.
Jill Hinckley, a self-described “networker” and owner of J Hinckley Introductions in Portland, a boutique agency that specializes in networking single people in New England, said matchmaking is an “old-fashioned” term she generally steers away from. Hinckley starts by setting up a meeting over a cup of coffee to discuss with clients how the program works to see whether it’s the right fit, starting with a brief questionnaire.
Instead of simply pairing two people together, Hinckley likes to “network single people and help them throughout (the dating) process. I work with everyone individually and talk about what they are looking for,” she said.
Hinckley, who has been married for 16 years and has five children, started her Portland-based business a year and a half ago. It resembles a job recruiting agency, but instead of helping her clients find work, she helps them find love.
Hinckley has always enjoyed introducing people and has managed to build up “quite the network” of single people through the years, she said.
Aside from a brief introductory email, all of her work is done in person. And although she has set up many successful dates, she admits that there is no guarantee she will find a match for each one of her clients, which range in age from late 30s to 70s.
When it does happen, “it’s very rewarding, and such a good feeling,” said Hinckley.
While many of her clients are looking to find a specific kind of companionship, she said she doesn’t get “too personal or deep” with them during the program.
“I try to look at the big picture and include opportunities for single people to meet each other,” said Hinckley.
Hinckley spoke with Maine Women recently about how she got into the matchmaking business and what relationship advice she has for women.
Q: What inspired you to become a matchmaker?
A: In my previous work in recruiting for the boat-building industry, I had so many single friends and knew so many great networks of people, and so many of them told me they wanted to meet someone. But they were tired of online dating and wished there was some alternative, especially because they didn’t have very much time to devote to trying to find someone. I thought if I could bring people together who were truly good matches, that would be really fun. I’m a people person – I really love meeting new people and learning about them – and what could be better than using my connections to help someone meet the love of their life? If I can be part of that, I just love it.
Q: How has the dating/marriage scene changed over the last 20 years?
A: I think the process of dating has become a lot less personal in the last 20 years. People are meeting online or texting each other. Sometimes there’s actually very little face-to-face contact, because people are so busy working that they sometimes don’t even have the time to sit down for dinner. I also think that dating now is simply more challenging. There isn’t a particular set of agreed-upon rules like there used to be about such things as who should pay. Also, there are now so many more ways to learn about who’s out there looking that people end up with a pretty endless selection of matches – most of whom probably just aren’t right for them. So the question becomes how to narrow down the pool to those with real potential. I help my clients – many of whom are coming out of a long relationship and haven’t dated for many years – to navigate all these new possibilities so they don’t waste time going down dead-ends. We look at the big picture – where they’ve been, what they want, and all available resources – and create a strategy for meeting someone with true potential as a long-term partner.
Q: What relationship advice do you have for women?
A: I think the first thing that comes to mind is to be patient. Enjoy the experience of going on dates and meeting new people. Don’t over-think things, and stay positive. Don’t bring your past experiences to the table when you’re on a first date or embarking on a new relationship. Most importantly, be kind to yourself and trust your instincts. And, for anyone who’s interested, I offer all sorts of more detailed advice on my blog, http://blog.jhinckleyintroductions.com, so I encourage people to visit and subscribe. It’s free even if you aren’t a client, and I love to help people navigate the complicated world of dating today.