Tara Mcdonnell runs South Downs Introductions. From the moment I met her I could tell she had so much heart, determination and positivity and would go far in the world of matchmaking.
Tara was in the early stages of setting up her matchmaking business when she joined the Academy. Since then she has gone from strength to strength. Read on to hear about Tara’s journey from police detective to professional matchmaker!
When did you first start thinking about becoming a matchmaker and why?
I first thought about becoming a matchmaker when I was a detective with the police. I found it extremely hard to meet someone. I used internet dating on and off however, being in the police force put a lot of people off meeting me and some of those who did had weird uniform fetishes which did not interest me.
Believing I had a lot of love to give, I felt saddened that my childbearing years were slipping away and it seemed hopeless. As time went on I believed there was something more bespoke and personal needed in my area. Whilst I was still with the police I started to nurture an idea I had for matchmaking and I started to create a website. I never launched that business until four years later as I desperately feared taking the leap from a paid secure job into the unknown.
Instead I undertook a law degree and worked for a time in a law firm only to find I was made redundant. I didn’t mind being made redundant as I hated my job in the firm as it wasn’t helping people like I had done in my police career. So I came back to my idea of matchmaking, discussed it with my partner and with his full support I launched my matchmaking business.
Armed with Caroline Brealey’s book Matchmaking – Create your own Business I set out into the unknown and became my own boss. I found Caroline’s book an inspiration. I saw similarities between her situation and mine such as she worked with people in a similar industry to me and she wanted to continue to help people after she was made redundant. I reached out to Caroline and it was the best thing I ever did.
What made you bite the bullet and sign up to the academy bootcamp?
I conducted my research and believed wholeheartedly in what the Matchmaker Academy was offering. I knew I would receive the support and training that would take my business forward. It was a no-brainer. I would also have a great network of other matchmakers and industry experts who have now become my colleagues and friends. It’s a lonely business when you’re self employed however, I never feel alone with the Matchmaker Academy network, there is always someone to talk to or laugh with and help and Caroline is amazing as is her team.
Since attending the Matchmaker Academy training my business South Downs Introductions has sky rocketed. I sold enough memberships in one month to pay for the training only a month after attending the bootcamp. I developed my skills in matchmaking, gained and grew in confidence. I learned how to focus and price my services and pitch to the correct demographic. The pinnacle of my career was winning Best Newcomer in Dating at the prestigious UK Dating Awards, wow that was my absolute highlight of my first year as a matchmaker.
What did you enjoy the most about the bootcamp?
I enjoyed meeting other matchmakers who were in a similar situation as I was. Just chatting about our fears and concerns made me realise I was not alone. It was great meeting Caroline and Lydia, who were so warm and supportive. I made some great connections that weekend that I now collaborate with. Such as the fabulous Saskia from Hey Saturday who provides the professional, edgy photography for my clients and the wonderful Laura Yates who prepares my clients for dating with a one on one coaching session.
I have made great friends with the ladies from Soiree Society and have regular wine and Skype calls with Claire talking all things business and matchmaking. The support and follow up care given by Caroline is second to none.
Have you experienced any challenges since you began matchmaking and how have you overcome them?
The biggest challenge I have overcome is dealing with the scenario when one party says no to meeting. I don’t like any client to feel rejected as all my clients are wonderful in some way. As someone who is passionate about creating relationships I know that matchmaking is all about meeting face to face, as that is the only true way one gets a sense of compatibility.
However, you have to accept that you cannot help all of the people all of the time and some people will leave you unhappy. It’s usually because they refused to accept the sense of compatibility principle of meeting face to face in which case they refuse to meet people base on some absurd reasons such as they don’t like their earrings in the photo.
I invest a lot of time getting to know my clients and the ones who meet everyone I recommend tend to leave me happy having met someone through my service.
Tara, what is your favourite part of the job?
Without a doubt it’s when a client contacts me to place their membership on hold because they want to concentrate on the relationship I have facilitated by introducing them. I have many clients in this very situation, some have booked their first holiday together and others are moving in together. It never ceases to make me smile knowing that I helped create that happiness.
Got any future plans?
My business has grown sufficiently in one year to enable me to take someone on to assist me on a part-time basis. My plans are to develop the business in two areas which surround Sussex where I get a lot of enquiries from. The person I have just taken on will assist with that business development and growth.
Got a question from Tara? She would love to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Tara on Twitter.