Whether running your own business or working on a corporate team, the professional relationships you cultivate can help accelerate your success.
For office-based workers, there’s no shortage of opportunities for professional networking. Between meetings, lunches, events and after-work mixers, the days are filled with chances to connect with like-minded professionals and up-and-coming industry experts. But are you taking advantage of those key opportunities? Potentially not.
With 47 per cent of Canadians working from home (at least part-time) and 39 per cent working remotely (most of the time), the ability for many to create meaningful professional relationships can take a hit. So how can tight-on-time professionals, remote workers and budding entrepreneurs connect with inspiring peers through purposeful networking?
Two words: networking apps.
These mobile apps are designed to empower you through easy-to-use interfaces, creating a space for you to make top-notch virtual connections.
Of course, some networking apps are better than others, so here are four that stand out from the crowd.
For the developers at Shapr, it’s all about creating a space that cultivates meaningful networking. You’ve probably seen advertisements all over social media for this app, and for good reason — the team at Shapr includes networking masterminds.
With a user experience similar to that of the notorious dating app, Tinder, Shapr allows users to anonymously swipe through potential professional matches, targeted to you based on your location, experience and professional interests.
Shapr has found its success through the app’s ability to benefit a wide audience. From non-profit employees looking to make potential funding connections to students hoping to find a mentor, Shapr provides a wide array of opportunities that go beyond basic networking.
Some people may already be familiar with the popular Bumble dating and Bumble BFF apps. However, their third addition — Bumble Bizz — is designed to empower you to find other professionals, connect with mentors and expand your network. Using geo-tagging, Bumble Bizz allows you to connect, chat and potentially meet with kindred spirits in your area.
For better or for worse, Bumble Bizz adds your current employment status from your Facebook account, so it’s vital that your Facebook employment history is up to date. These occupations are the ones that show up as you swipe, making the app extremely helpful if you’re a person with a wide range of professional experience.
After uploading your photo, your resume and any additional information you’d like to include, you can start showcasing your professional successes and chatting with like-minded professionals.
However, make sure you connect quickly — Bumble Bizz only gives you 24 hours to start a conversation with any matches you make, creating an incentive to reach out to people you’d like to learn more about.
When it comes to networking, some prefer the good old “cold calling” technique. Clearbit Connect allows you to easily search for contacts at specific companies, right down to an individual’s position.
Although not technically an app, Clearbit Connect is a widget for Gmail and Outlook users to quickly find new contacts and learn more about their existing network. This email extension makes an otherwise timely prospecting practice into a streamlined activity. Simply download the appropriate extension for your email service to level-up your networking strategy.
Whether you’re networking online or simply cannot remember the CEO’s name of that high-profile company you connected with, Clearbit Connect makes finding or reconnecting with potential leads simple. From finding an email contact to uncovering business details, Clearbit Connect is a powerful tool for those looking to increase their lead gen capabilities.
Every once in a while, you might find yourself at an industry conference or seminar whether you’re a remote worker or time-constrained employee. With so many potential leads and valuable contacts in your presence, how can you pinpoint the couple of people you really want to connect with?
Bizzabo is a conference networking app that allows you to e-introduce yourself to fellow conference attendees, schedule meetings and message people you’d like to chat with one-on-one. This app is part of an overarching event software that allows planners and managers to seamlessly connect all facets of their event. From event management to event marketing features, Bizzabo provides an intuitive experience across all user-facing capabilities.
Upon arriving at a tradeshow, special event or conference organized using Bizzabo, attendees can access their tickets, review speaker profiles and interact with other attendees via one-on-one messaging and social media. With features like private messaging, detailed profile creation and the ability to integrate with social media platforms, Bizzabo is the ideal app for both event managers and attendees hoping to network and connect with like-minded professionals.
Get the most out of your networking meetup
Once you’ve set-up a virtual or in-person meeting, it’s vital that you approach it with a healthy mix of spontaneity and preparedness. Here are a couple of tips to help you make the most out of your next networking session:
Put that phone away:
This may seem like a no-brainer, but in our ever-connected modern environment, disconnecting even for a couple hours may seem tough.
However, when you remove yourself from distractions (like email notifications), you can immerse yourself in your conversation and gain some knowledge that will help develop your strategies. This will also help create the grounds for a solid professional relationship.
Ask leading questions:
A top-notch networking meetup involves asking questions and gaining perspective and inspiration from the other person. The answers can provide interesting insights into how to take your business and professional relationships to the next level.
Have some questions in mind before you head in, and take notes so you don’t forget the other person’s advice. Their point of view can be a major source of inspiration and could help refine your business processes.
Take some deep breaths:
It’s crucial for your networking meetup and your own mental well-being that you don’t overestimate or underestimate what you’ll gain from your experience. Some meetups will end with a new contact or business relationship, while others will simply provide you with some fresh ideas.
Craft a stellar follow-up email (or LinkedIn message) to thank your new contact. Let them know what you took away from the session, including any particular highlights of the conversation. If there were any action items that came out of the conversation, such as sharing a book title or online resource, make sure you include that in this follow-up.
By utilizing networking apps, you can cultivate a network of meaningful, long-lasting professional relationships that help you create, sustain and grow a best-in-class business.