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Some engage in it as a profession and charge a fee for their services.Usually a professional matchmaker is called a shadchan, but anyone who makes a shidduch is considered the shadchan for it.
The time you are given before you are married is a special time for growth. Your lives should be moving in the same general direction.
If you want to meet your soulmate, you first have to be willing to meet your own soul.
When you marry the right person, that person will enourage you to be the best you can be. You might be attracted to someone of the same gender.
Also the age when shidduchim start may vary by community.
In frum circles, especially among Hassidim, eighteen is the age when shidduchim start and shadchanim take notice.