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More Than a Matchmaker

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Francesca Hogi is more than just a matchmaker. She will literally pound the pavement to find matches for her clients. As a former lawyer, "Survivor" contestant and lifelong romantic, Hogi has what it takes to help singles stop relying on chance meetings to find their destinies.

What makes Hogi's matchmaking different is Hogi herself. She has a gift for helping clients deal with anxiety or other issues as she guides them through the dating process. Those who know her say she is the first person they turn to for relationship advice.

Friends also say Hogi has the best sense of style of anyone they know. Before sending you out with your matches, Hogi helps fashion you into your best self; ever since she did a makeover for me, I have received a stream of compliments.

How did your cupid career evolve?

You know how some people don't like to get involved in other people's love lives? I'm the opposite. I've been meddling and setting people up, as well as making over my friends for years. I've done a lot of things -- I'm a lawyer, I worked in the film industry and I was on Survivor -- but dating and romance have always been my passion, so to speak. I was lucky enough to connect with the matchmaker Paul C. Brunson, for whom I now work as a matchmaker and dating coach.

What steps do your clients go through before meeting their matches?

I start with an assessment, which helps my clients articulate what's really important to them. What are their core values? What is their personality like? Who complements that?

An important part of the mix is feedback from the client's loved ones. I can't tell you how much insight that provides. Of course it's all done in a constructive, confidential way. I wouldn't say, "Your mother thinks you're too bossy." But if multiple people mention this, I share it with my client. This way clients gain an understanding of how they're being perceived by those closest to them. And then we make a plan to address that.

How do you find the right person?

I am always on the lookout. I go up to strangers on the subway, in bars, airports, wherever. Sometimes I solicit referrals. I pay for referrals, so if anyone refers a single who winds up going on a date with a client, it costs the single nothing and we pay a referral fee. So that's a good motivator. It gets people to send us their single friends, family members, co-workers, etc.

And there's social media, which, obviously, is a good way to connect to people. If, for example, you know a great single guy (or if you are one), email me! Seriously!

How do you work with clients who live too far to meet in person?

Luckily, with Skype and other technology, we're not limited geographically. I personally split my time between New York and LA, so I can meet clients in both cities face-to-face. But even for local clients, a lot of our interaction can take place over the phone and email.

What steps can someone take right now to find love?

My biggest piece of advice on this question comes from Paul Brunson. Step #1 is to expand your social circle. That's key. Make new friends or reconnect with ones you haven't seen in a long time. Accept invitations to parties and events. Rather than having brunch with your usual crew, invite your college roommate to get together. Join a group on meetup.com.

And of course there's online dating. Even though I've seen it make some people too picky and cynical, it is still a useful avenue for meeting people, especially if you're not in a big city or have a super busy lifestyle. And of course, you can always hire a matchmaker to do the legwork for you.

Online dating do's and don'ts

Get some good photos! I don't mean glamour shots, just get your friend or you sister to take some good, clear photos of you with your cell phone. Smile and make sure you include a full-body shot. Be honest in your profile, but don't over-share.

Be sure to say what you are looking for, not what you aren't. Statements like "liars and cheats need not apply" make you sound bitter and angry. It's much more inviting to say, "I really value honesty and loyalty." You shouldn't put anything in your online profile you wouldn't say to a stranger within 5 minutes of meeting them.

What is the ethnic mix of your clientele?

I have many white clients as well as black ones, and I have clients of different religions. For some, religion is very important and for others not at all. Some clients are open to dating outside of their race or religion.

I want to find my clients the right person, and that's a very personal, individualized search for every client. One of the biggest factors is your willingness to be open to the process and your readiness for a real relationship.

Speaking of romance, you can read about marriage, divorce, relationships and more in my memoir, Confessions of a Worrywart: Husbands, Lovers, Mothers, and Others.

And visit my blog, Confessions of a Worrywart.