Check out the startup that’s making networking flourish
The phrase “it’s not about what you know, but who you know” is all too true in the professional world. As a startup, the advantages of networking can be a powerful thing. It can discover the right talent for your company, discover new strategies, open new doors, develop skills, and give you the valuable support you need to flourish.
It today’s world, networking can appear daunting to many professionals. With busy working lives, many individuals find it difficult to put the time aside to schedule in meetings with others.
However, in an increasingly evolving digital age, networking has never been easier for professionals. One startup that is set to disrupt the networking world is mobile-first app, Shapr. Founded in 2014, Shapr is a Tinder-like app that matches users to the profiles of others based on things such as tagged interests, location, and professional experience.
Ludovic Huraux, CEO and co-founder of Shapr spoke with Tech Wire Asia about the value networking can bring to startups.
“Your network is the most important tool you have for growing a startup,” he said. “Your network can introduce passionate and talented leaders for your team, become investors in your ideas, provide feedback on your product, and mentor you through your growth.”
One of the biggest networking mistakes that startup founders make is not making networking a regular habit. Many founders simply attend a few business conferences when they first establish their company and then stop their efforts there.
“The worst mistake you can make as a professional is to wait to grow your network until you need it. Focus on building meaningful connections regularly. These connections will guide and challenge you, and may end up introducing your next client or co-founder,” he said.
As the market changes, you should be constantly updating your contact list. This is something that Huraux discovered when building his first company.
“There is no way I would have ever been a successful entrepreneur without my network. As an entrepreneur, nothing inspires me more than a conversation with someone new,” he said.
“It’s incredibly encouraging to share ideas, get feedback on your projects in development and learn about someone else’s path. One coffee can often lead to an interesting idea for our product team, insight into a marketing tactic that worked for a similar company or an introduction to someone terrific who is hunting for their next role.”
Traditional networking often has a bad reputation, especially with millennials. The process of spending your spare time at networking events where you may or may not meet meaningful contacts can be viewed as an exhausting, time-consuming experience.
A marketing manager at Citi shared the major millennial frustration with Forbes, “At a general networking function, you’re likely going into the room cold with little information about who’s in the room and why they are there.”
With digital platforms and electronic devices being the forefront of the lives of millennials, it should be no surprise that apps such as Shapr are bringing more appeal to the networking game than ever before. Once a begrudged task, Shapr is transforming networking into a more of a mindset.
“The goal of Shapr is for networking to be so simple and fun that it becomes part of an everyday habit” said Huraux.
Shapr provides users with 10 to 15 profiles of other professionals nearby who share similar interests who are selected using a powerful algorithm. Similar to the popular dating app, Tinder, users swipe either left or right to indicate if they would like to connect with the individual. Once two individuals both swipe right on each other’s profiles, they can then message and set up a meeting.
“I want to encourage every professional to meet someone new for coffee, and to make networking possible for professionals around the globe,” Huruax said. “A powerful network should be available to anyone who approaches networking with a positive and giving mindset.”
LinkedIn has bridged the gap in many ways for millennials and networking, allowing users to find out varying information about an individual before seeking out to get in touch with them.
However, with LinkedIn designed to formally connect you with people that you have already met, it can make approaching new connections feel awkward and forced. The founders of Shapr stress that rather than being an alternative to LinkedIn, it serves to compliment the professional-networking giant.
— Shapr (@weareshapr) November 19, 2017
“We consider Shapr to be the perfect compliment to LinkedIn, since our goal is to introduce relevant people outside of your existing circles and turn these connections into face-to-face coffees or Skype calls,” he said.
Shapr provides a platform for meaningful networking, with professionals who try to use the app for transactional goals or sales being blocked from the platform.
“Joining Shapr means joining a community of professionals who are actively trying to help one another,” he said.
Shapr is rapidly growing, with over 2,500 new users joining every day. The app is seeing strong usage in the US, UK, Canada, with emerging organic communities in the APAC region.
One founder of a mobile-gaming startup, Kam Punia, who has found particular success in the networking app said, ““Through Shapr, I met the vice president of King, the company behind Candy Crush. We talked, he liked our business and now he’s investing in our company. All because of Shapr my business was given a rocket fueled boost!”
So, if you haven’t already upped your networking game, now is a better time than ever to start. After all, you have nothing to lose but a whole bunch of meaningful contacts to gain.