Networking—it’s a word that strikes fear into many professionals. But the truth is, you don’t have to be the gregarious person shaking every hand in the room to be great at networking. And, in the digital age, it’s possible to be an effective networker right from your home. The bottom line is that networking, no matter how you get it done, is a critical part of growing your creative business and getting your name out there.
From grabbing new clients to linking up with professionals that can elevate your career, building a solid network sets yourself up for success. Mingling with other professionals is also a fantastic way to brainstorm ideas or find mentors to help guide you and Shapr, the free networking app for professionals, is making it easier than ever to make the right connections. The app is simple to set up and takes only a few minutes each day to connect with like-minded professionals in your area and meet up in real life to take your network to a new level.
To make sure you’re on top of your networking game, we’ve focused on five ways you can be more effective in expanding your professional circles through Shapr. And if done correctly, networking can become one of the most pleasurable parts of your business routine.
Want to be more effective in your professional networking? Here are 5 networking tips to take your career to new heights.
1. Be “Social”
One of the great things about technology is that it opens up networking opportunities that never previously existing. Having a social media presence is already an essential part of building your creative brand, but did you know it can be just as effective in networking?
Shapr takes things a step further and aims to get people off their phones and meeting face to face or over a call. Designed to turn online encounters into in-person meetings, the app’s algorithm will pair you with professionals in your area. Just swipe right if they seem interesting and if you’re paired, you can strike up a conversation. You’ll also be able to see the other party’s social media profiles, which allows you to interact across multiple platforms.
2. Be Open to Meeting New People With Different Ideas
With 1.2 million people on Shapr you never know who you will meet, but one of the biggest mistakes people make when networking is immediately pushing their own agenda. Listening is one of the most valuable tools you can have when networking because it lets different perspectives come through. By keeping your ears open, you’ll receive information that could spark a new idea or partnership. And by taking a real interest in the other party, they’ll know that you are just as invested in what they have to offer.
To that end, when connecting with new people—whether online or in person—ask questions that will really help you get to know that person. Of course, you’ll want to understand them professionally, but also taking the time to know a bit more about their family, hobbies, and personal aspirations may unearth interesting opportunities.
3. Keep Your Eyes Open for Opportunity
It’s your job to recognize and seize the opportunity. Traveling can also be a great way of branching out and expanding your network. With Shapr, you can easily meet professionals in any city, as the app also uses location to pair professionals. And its Teleport feature allows you to set your location manually, meaning you can set up a chat over coffee before you even arrive at your destination.
You don’t just have to be at trade shows or gallery openings to network. Opportunities can present themselves anywhere, and you always want to be prepared. It’s always a good idea to make sure friends know of what projects you’re working on, both currently and in the future. Connectors within your circle may put the perfect professional in front of you at a friendly dinner or during brunch.
4. Meet People You Would Normally Avoid
Think outside the box in terms of who you should network with. For instance, artists often gravitate toward curators, collectors, and gallerists. But with Shapr you can connect with an architect or interior designer who might present other opportunities for getting artwork into private and commercial spaces. The key is not to keep yourself hemmed into one way of thinking. It’s about taking risks in meeting and mingling with different professionals that fall outside your normal sphere.
5. Keep in Touch
So you’ve matched on Shapr, and even met up for coffee. Don’t let the line of communications shut down! Networking is about building relationships, and relationships take time. Checking in will help keep you fresh in the mind of the other party—and you never know when the timing might be right for something further to develop. Even just a short note with a link to an article you think they might find interesting can do wonders. It will show that you were listening to their interests, and goes back to the give and take of the relationship. By touching base, but not always asking for something directly, you’re demonstrating that you’d like to forge a real connection. And in the end, that’s how the best relationships begin.