This App Takes The Work Out Of Networking

I'm going to be honest, the word "networking" makes me want to crawl under the covers. As an awkward introvert, going to a networking event to make small talk over cocktails and tiny food is basically my worst nightmare. If you can relate, this networking app that applies online dating tools to match you with other like-minded people in your industry is gonna be totally up your alley. For starters, it can help eliminate some of the more painful parts of networking because you can get the small talk out of the way on the app before you meet in person.

If you don't live in a major city, or you're new to town, it can be hard to meet other people in your field, especially if you work from home where you likely only meet the mail man and the food delivery person over the course of your work day.

If you find yourself relying on these people too much for your mental stimulation and social interactions, you might want to check out Shapr, a networking app that uses an online-dating type of algorithm to connect you with others on a similar career path who also have shared interests and goals. And, since there's no pressure to make a love connection, Shapr can make the process a lot more useful, not to mention a lot less stressful.

Meaningful Matches With Liked-Minded People

While many places host networking happy hours, showing up alone and walking into a room full of strangers can be pretty intimidating. Once you grab a drink, and some tapas, you likely wander around alone until you catch someone's eye and strike up a conversation. Sometimes you might even find yourself hovering outside of a group of people chatting like some kind of lurker who doesn't get invited into the inner circle. It sort of feels like finding a place to sit at lunch on your first day at a new school. Why would anyone choose to do this?

While some people love working a room full of strangers, many of us don't. And, now you don't have to. Shapr, which is available for iOS and Android as a free app, has more than half a million users, and has generated more than 3 million professional matches in 2017 alone.

Over the last year, Shapr has helped professionals in the U.S., U.K., and France find investors and co-founders for start-ups, launch new businesses, and sign new job offers, according to a press release provided to Bustle by Shapr.

"Shapr is the most efficient way for busy professionals to build quality career connections. On Shapr, you can quickly swipe through a curated daily selection of relevant professionals who are actively looking to expand their networks, and message to set up a meeting when the interest to connect is mutual," Mandy Menaker, head of PR and Brand Development at Shapr, says.

Networking As Part Of Your Lifestyle

So, how does it work? Integrating networking into your digital life is simple. To get started, select up to 10 interests on Shapr such as #Startups, #AI or #GraphicDesign. You can also add a few more personal interests such as #Meditation or #Running to increase the chances the connection might also turn into a friend. The app then uses a proprietary algorithm to curate a daily selection of 15 profiles to browse, making the networking experience highly relevant, manageable, and enjoyable.

Additionally, Shapr announced Jun. 27 that it has raised $9.5 million from private investors, and will use the funds to hire 15 employees for its Paris and New York offices in the next 12 months, and launch a paid subscription portion of the app. Shapr Premium will include the option to browse up to 50 profiles per day, and manual location settings so users can set up meetings before heading to a new destination or continue to network remotely while traveling, according to the press release.

"No matter your goal — such as finding a co-founder, exploring a career change, getting in the door at interesting companies or just looking for friends in your city — Shapr makes networking so simple that it becomes part of your everyday routine," Menaker says.

Having something like this at your fingertips can make traveling for work more productive, and more social, which ultimately equals more fun. For me, already knowing someone on the ground in a new city makes a huge difference. And, the fact that I get to skip the nightmare networking happy hours — and have a drink with a new friend instead — is a big bonus.