The Midrash says (Bamidbar Rabba 18) that Hashem has many messengers. He chooses all kinds of people and things to fulfill His aims. The very first shidduch we read about in the Torah was carried out through a messenger. Anyone could be that messenger and be approached by such a messenger.
Looking for a shidduch.
Everyone is a potential shadchan. Many shidduchim are made through a shadchan, but others come from different sources. Anyone can be a shadchan: your sister’s nanny, your brother’s co-worker, a vendor. Don’t discredit an idea because it didn’t come in the way you expected.
Shidduch networking works! Networking can really help for shidduchim if you network effectively. Reach out to others. Let people know you are looking for a shidduch for someone. Who to network with? Start with people you know. Your family, your cousins, your neighbors, your friends. They all know people that you don’t know.
When, Where? Really anywhere, anytime. Although sometimes are easier. Be sure to be breezy and friendly, not a harried, desperate mother. The best time and place is when people are relaxed, like at a wedding, around the pool, or at a kiddush in shul. More than one shidduch emerged because of an informal chat at the manicure salon!
Network when you call a reference. When calling for a reference for your family member, you might also describe the person on whose behalf you are calling. You just never know whether this will strike a chord. This will help you find out more accurately if this suggestion is a good fit, and if it is not the person may know someone who could be suitable.
Networking events help you connect with new people. In the last few years, many variations of networking events have been started. The major advantage of these events is that you’ll meet people who you might not otherwise meet. (This is different from singles or speed dating events.)
Suggesting someone for yourself.
Suggesting someone for yourself is perfectly okay. Say you see someone at a Shabbos meal, or someone who works in your organization, if you think there is something of potential interest there, ask someone to broach the idea.
If you are fortunate to have astute friends or family members, welcome their suggestions for possible dates. Shadchanim may be professional matchmakers, but there is nothing to beat getting a tip from someone who knows you and cares about you.
When you get a suggestion.
Always query “what makes you think this is a good idea?”, but listen to the response with respect and attentiveness. Someone who has gotten to know both parties is in the best possible position to sense whether it could be a good fit.
The problem is that so often we struggle to take our friends and family seriously, giving more credence to the view of strangers. When it comes to dating, that would be a big mistake.