I used to hate the word “networking.” It evoked images of impersonal conversations and awkward business card exchanges, neither of which excite me. More importantly, I defined “networking” as meeting people with an agenda: to use them to further your goals.
But something’s shifted for me since I began working with a kindred spirit who’s been mentoring me as I write my first screenplay: seeking help isn’t using people. In fact, this is something we do with friends all the time. We share what we’re up to, elicit their support, and let them know we’re there for them as well. This is what it means to love.
“Networking,” when viewed through the lens of love, isn’t about getting things from other people. It’s also about giving. It’s about synergy. It’s about finding ways to benefit each other, so we can all live more meaningful lives and use our gifts to create things that can help the world at large.
And isn’t that what we all want? To invest our time and energy into things that matter to us, to feel we’re making a positive difference in the world, and to genuinely connect with other people in the process?
Armed with this less cynical, more inspiring definition of networking, I feel far more enthusiastic about doing it, but it’s not always easy to meet people with similar interests and aspirations. And it’s even harder to connect with people you admire so you can learn from where they’ve been.
With this in mind, I’ve been a big fan of Shapr, a simple, free app that providers a modern, mindful way to connect so we can more easily create a network of likeminded people.
Shapr is a little like Tinder in that you swipe right to connect, but it’s for professional connections instead of romantic ones. This makes it a lot easier to find people who share your interests, passion, and mission so that you can make genuine, mutually beneficial connections.
Shapr works through a smart algorithm, which uses your location, self-selected interests such as #marketing or #yoga, and your networking goals (i.e. find a cofounder, meet new friends, get a new job), to introduce you to relevant people in your area.
Shapr’s goal? To get you meeting someone new for coffee each week.
All interactions on the app are anonymous until both people choose to connect. When a “match” is made, you will be notified and can message your match using a prebuilt icebreaker. From there, suggest a Skype call or a place to meet in person.
I’m not the only person who’s loving Shapr. The app’s gotten some wonderful feedback so far.
Briana Daniel’s story particularly resonated with me. She says she started using Shapr with the intention of “networking on the go” for her Orlando-based nonprofit organization Street Team Movement.
She’s not only made new professional connections with interesting people who share her interests; she’s also met one of her best friends, who she eventually asked to be a bridesmaid in her wedding.
Then there’s Artisha Mann, an NYC-based indie film producer. Artisha started using Shapr to meet other creatives. She says the app was helpful for finding people who live outside of her social comfort zone, and for discovering new strategies for her projects. While her primary goal was to get inspired, she ended up meeting a venture capitalist who she never would have met otherwise.
As someone who’s new to the sometimes-intimidating world of film, I feel encouraged to know I now have a tool to easily meet other aspiring filmmakers so we can help bring each other’s projects to life.
Whatever world you want to be in, you don’t have to navigate it alone. So start expanding your own network and meeting inspiring, like-minded people near you. You never know what you could accomplish with a little love and support, or who you could help and inspire by offering the same in return.
The post Make the Difference You Want to Make by Expanding Your Network, Mindfully appeared first on Tiny Buddha.