Networking is hard. In the past, you’d have to go to events in person, hand out your business card, and try and strike up conversations. Then, LinkedIn came along, and it was supposed to provide an easier way to meet people in your field or with similar interests. However, even that was limited, because you had to share an acquaintance before you could connect to someone. How are you supposed to meet someone totally outside your bubble, without looking too aggressive or awkward?
Shapr solves that problem. This app models itself after Tinder and other dating/friendship apps where you can choose to swipe left or right on someone. They won’t know until you both swipe right, and match. You can then message each other and set up a meeting for coffee, by phone, or whatever other way you both like.
What makes Shapr stand out is that you can only view about 10 profiles per swipe session. Unlike Tinder or even other networking apps like Meetup, you cannot spend hours scrolling through an overwhelming amount of information and people. Shapr wants to foster an environment of quality connections, and not quantity. With these limitations, people are more likely to actually meet face-to-face, which is also one of Shapr’s goals. The best connections happen in person, so the app is just about making the initial step, and the rest is up to you.
So, what’s it like to actually use the app? I downloaded it (it’s free!) and got started. You sign up with your email or LinkedIn, and fill in a short bio. The hashtag keywords are key (you can add up to 10), because they let Shapr’s algorithm find the best networking prospects for you. Other info you can fill in includes how you like to meet – I choose over coffee or on a walk – and what you’re looking for. I chose “Ideas and Inspiration” from the list that included “Job opportunities,” “Mentorship,” and so on. Once I had completed the first step, I got to see who Shapr found for me. The interface was very similar to Tinder or Bumble. There were also “pass” or “meet” buttons on the bottom of the screen, if the swiping isn’t your thing. I ended up finding my husband on there (we shared several keywords), and I swiped right. We matched, and the option for messaging right on the app popped up.
What was most striking about Shapr is how easy and fun it is. While initial networking in person can be exhausting, and LinkedIn is rather cold, seeing people’s hashtags like “volunteering,” “writing,” “publishing,” and “political activism,” gave me a fast, clear view of who they were and what they were looking for. Any hashtags you have in common are highlighted. For someone like me who is shy around new people, this app could be a real lifesaver. Walking up to a total stranger in a networking setting is always terrifying, and it’s easy to just sound like you want a job, even if you’re just interested in picking someone’s brain. On LinkedIn, you have to know someone through someone else, which seems to kind of defeat the purpose of networking in the first place. If you don’t, you get a “How do you know this person?” notification, and then have to try and justify yourself to the website. That’s way too much work.
Shapr is small, but growing, and actually, smaller is better when it comes to networking. You get a group of people really committed to meeting with others in person. You also won’t be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of prospects, and Shapr does all the filtering work for you. Again, it’s free, so go check it out!