Shapr is a great opportunity to meet people with similar career goals in your area, and you better take an advantage of it. (Illustration by Andrea Trixx)

In the age of social media and online communication, you would think the art of networking would have been buried next to the fax machine. But, in fact, the number of jobs young professionals acquire through face-to-face communication has only gone up. According to a 2016 study, 85 percent of critical jobs are filled via networking.

Growing up in a time of swiping for potential suitors, snapchatting being as casual as a texting and Twitter doing double duty as a meme database and a breaking-news outlet, it’s only fitting that traditional networking gets a millennial makeover. Now, if that got you nervous and you frantically started practicing shaking hands with yourself, then it’s time I introduce your new networking wingman, Shapr.

 In hindsight, most working-class individuals have the same dream: to bump into a CEO and get a high-paying position offered right on the spot. Unfortunately for dreamers, those encounters cannot be scripted by anyone but chance itself. Luckily, the professional networking app Shapr was born with the hopes of shortcutting fate.

Other than speeding up chance, the app encourages “matches” to chat about job interests, meetup for lunch or drinks and pursue mutually beneficial professional relationships with each other. Matchmaker, networking facilitator and 100 percent committed to expanding your circle of contacts, Shapr is reimagining where being app savvy and having an opportunistic mindset can take you.

Here’s how it works: upon registering with your email address or connecting to your LinkedIn profile, the app will use a smart algorithm to present you with 10-15 professional profiles on the face of your phone daily. From there, just take your trusty swiper finger and begin sliding left to reject and right to like potential business partners, employers or mentors, all in hopes of getting a reciprocated “match.”

Unlike Tinder, Shapr gives you more information about a potential match like their position, employed company and their app involvement ambitions, rather than just a photo and a cringe-worthy biography. When two people match, they can pursue the connection through a private chat where it is encouraged to discuss potential meeting arrangements or common job-related interests.

In case someone mistakes Shapr for a dating service or a marketplace for goods, there are flagging features to ensure the safety of all users. In an interview with Forbes, Huraux said, “Our goal is not to get your business cards into the hands of as many people as possible. Our goal is to spark mutually beneficial conversations that evolve into long-term relationships. We ask users to report anyone who tries to hard sell a service or a product through the app.”

With the personal nature of the up-and-coming app, it is imperative to know the intentions of the creator and how the idea came about. French co-creator and CEO Ludovic Huraux is a serial entrepreneur, his first success being the French dating app, Attractive World. On the heels of his successful first app, Huraux was inspired to create Shapr, “my network inspired me, challenged me, and helped keep me centered, even during tough months. I have personally experienced how powerful a conversation with someone new can be.” Today, the app has a total of 700,000 users and an average of 2,500 downloads per day.

Besides the benefits of interacting with promising professionals you would otherwise never see outside their 15-story building, Shapr is also saving users’ precious time. It is estimated that an average user spends 17 minutes monthly on Linkedin, which means a lot of your heartfelt messages are probably going unopened/unanswered.

In an interview with Partech Shaker, Huraux said, “Although Linkedin is a very powerful platform, it remains cold and transactional.” As opposed to the Linkedin, the matching nature of the Shapr ensures that both parties are mutually involved in pursuing the business partnership, so no more feeling jibbed by a shortage of communication.

In all honesty, the Facebook ads about this app did give it a scammer-ish look but looks can be deceiving. The only concern I had of the interface was because of its online nature. With an unyielding amount of horror stories documenting tragic deaths birthed from online chat rooms, it can be safer just to stick to traditional introductions at gatherings or icebreakers on the elevator without the possible threat of getting hurt or killed. Nevertheless, it is one of those downloads that can really impact your professional career if you are diligent, trustworthy and know the signs of an unsafe environment

So does Shapr actually deliver on its mission statement of “getting as many people as possible into the habit of meeting one new person every week, or even every day”? In my next-to-nothing experience as a networking connoisseur, I would say Shapr is successful in getting people motivated to start networking. I gravitated towards the idea that meeting professional contacts would be as simple as a swipe because like many young adults today, I shy away from face-to-face business dialect. Why would I call or meet up in person someone when I can just email?

Either way, whether you stand unopposed to meeting plans or avoid the daunting phone call with every fiber in your being, Shapr can be beneficial in every aspect. When I used the app, I haven’t matched with anyone in my area with similar career goals, yet I’m definitely not giving up.

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