Presented in partnership with Shapr.
I’m introverted and shy, and speaking to people I don’t know can be painful.
As a recent college graduate, everyone always gives me the same career advice: network, network, network. If I want to build long-lasting relationships that help me further advance in my career, I need to learn how to talk to a room full of complete strangers.
Just thinking about that idea makes me cringe.
My first attempt at networking proved just that, but Shapr made it easier than ever to meet inspiring professionals. The free app is helping people like me break out and make the right connections, but let’s get back to the story first.
During college, I convinced my professor to pay for an event for me to attend. I’m a first-generation student, and I needed help with developing my career. Also, since I work in digital marketing, I wanted to meet individuals to not only build my network but find other unicorns.
By unicorns, I mean awesome women conquering the world. Duh.
At my first ever networking mixer, I sat down and nervously glanced around the room. I didn’t recognize a single person. I pulled out my pen and paper, and in true introvert fashion, focused more on taking notes than making small talk.
At one point during the event, a man stood in front of me and began berating me. He’d actually gotten frustrated with my silence. He thought I wasn’t interested in anything he was saying and apparently it made him uncomfortable. I dropped my pen on my notepad and stared at him in disbelief. I didn’t think I was being rude at all. I was just shy.
After that scarring experience, I went to a few more events. While none were as bad as the first, I never found them useful.
I was done with networking.
Yes, I met new people, but most of the time they didn’t share the same interests as me. The conversations never went anywhere beyond a simple business card exchange, cards that built up dust on the corner of my desk. I was desperate.
So I made a fateful decision: why not try meeting people online? I might not be looking for the love of my life, but the dream job of my life? Hell yes.
Then, scrolling through my Facebook feed at 2 a.m, I stumbled on an app called Shapr. I’ll be real: after being burned by in-person networking events, I was super skeptical. The idea seemed simple: you swipe right on professionals you want to meet or chat with and swipe no on those who don’t align with your goals or interests. Doesn’t sound too difficult, right?
It was 2 a.m and I was feeling some type of way, so I made the move: I downloaded Shapr and nervously opened it.
After the first use, I was hooked.
I made my profile by connecting to my LinkedIn, which filled out the basic profile information for me like my experience and education. This made the signup process extremely fast, plus I wasn’t wasting time trying to craft a clever message to entice someone to swipe right on me. I was able to start browsing profiles right away. The app did the work for me of picking 15 or so people that made sense based on my background and interests and then promised a fresh batch the next morning.
Strangely enough, the best feature was the daily limit on right swipes. Instead of throwing out a massive net and expecting some sort of return, I now had to pay attention to profile details – details I had missed both during events and online. I could focus on a reasonable amount of swipes and still be excited to return to the app the next day.
It was official. I was in love with an app.
No more social anxiety for me! I struggled with knowing what to say during social events, but Shapr erased that problem. And if you’re like me, starting that initial conversation with a stranger is the most uncomfortable feeling ever. The app provided me with several suggestions to start a conversation since it has prebuilt icebreakers to pick from once you match. Plus, it’s FREE, so there is literally nothing stopping you.
One of my first matches was a woman who was a professional freelancer. The moment I swiped right, we instantly connected. She helped me out in the freelancing world with all these tips and tricks on how to land my first clients. We are grabbing tea again next week.
Another woman I matched with was so awesome, she even suggested that we collaborate. We also shared similar struggles as recent graduates trying to figure out the workforce, since none of our parents attended college. Months after we connected, we still Skype and meet up regularly.
Within just a few weeks of using the app, I matched with numerous high-value connections. Surprisingly, it was the folks that I would have never approached in a room who were the most helpful. I just needed to meet them in a way that I felt comfortable. It’s official: I don’t find networking to be a nightmare from hell anymore. I finally feel more confident in myself and my networking skills. I can honestly say that I’m one step closer to achieving my goals and dreams. It’s something I’ve spent time sharing the app with my friends, acquaintances – anyone I talk to, including you.
You can download the Shapr app here, and start swiping. If you run across me on the app, swipe right! I’d love to meetup and hear about your experience.