This is a post written in collaboration with Shapr—an Elephant partner. We’re honored to work with anyone who is this dedicated to offering a more mindful way of building professional relationships. ~ Ed.
Upgrade your Life by Expanding your Network, Mindfully.
We each hold the key to unlocking the life we want. Sure, it sounds a little hokey, but it’s basically true.
We get to choose what we want to do for a living, which hobbies to invest time and energy into, and where we aspire to be in 10 years. And the best way to get there? Meeting others who share our interests or have career paths we admire, and learning from these conversations.
And yet, most millennials tend to find networking to be pretty painful when it involves business cards and awkward events. But thanks to Shapr, there’s now a more modern, mindful way to connect, which makes expanding our network as enjoyable as meeting a friend for coffee.
This simple, free app is a little like Tinder in that you swipe right to connect, but this time for professional connections instead of romantic ones. Because meeting people we share similar interests, passions, and missions with should be a natural and joyful experience. Networking, at its heart, is about meeting new people we’re already likely to align with and making genuine connections.
Shapr works through a smart algorithm, which uses your location, self-selected interests such as #marketing or #yoga and your networking goals (i.e. find a cofounder, meet new friends, get a new job), to introduce you to relevant people in your area.
The app functions a bit like a dating app, only romantic banter is banned. Shapr’s goal? To get you meeting someone new for coffee each week.
“I’ve witnessed firsthand that you need to get out of your usual circles if you want to achieve more,” offers Artisha Mann, an NYC-based indie film producer. “Meeting others will help you find your own path.”
Artisha started using Shapr to meet other creatives. She says the app was helpful for finding people who live outside of her social comfort zone, and for discovering new strategies for her projects. While her primary goal was to get inspired, she actually found networking to be helpful in opening her next opportunity.
“Before I knew it, I got in touch with a venture capitalist I never thought I’d meet otherwise—and in a relaxed, casual way that didn’t feel too forced. Truly an invaluable connection that made a big difference for me.”
All interactions on the app are anonymous until both people choose to connect. When a “match” is made, you will be notified and can message your match using a prebuilt icebreaker. From there, suggest a Skype call or a place to meet in person. Adopt an open-minded attitude and approach these conversations ready to learn and grow, rather than trying to strategically address a specific need.
Briana Daniel says she started using Shapr with the intention of “networking on the go” for her Orlando-based nonprofit organization Street Team Movement.
“Traditional networking events became more of a meet-and-greet with people who didn’t seem to want anything more than a selfie and a Facebook add,” explains Briana. “Shapr is perfect. It allows me to vet individuals before meeting with them. I am in complete control of the conversation—and I love it!”
Briana says that everyone she has met through Shapr shares a positive and open-minded approach. Her favorite connection so far is now one of her bridesmaids!
“I would swipe right and meet upbeat, interesting people who shared my interests. One of my matches became my best friend! We text constantly and share challenges within our industries, home, and social circles. Fast forward eight months and I asked her to be a bridesmaid in my wedding! I never would have connected with her if it wasn’t for the app!”
So start expanding your own network, and meeting like-minded and inspiring people near you—not just to open your next opportunity, but to be brave, get motivated, and move proactively in the direction you want your professional life to take.
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren