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Effective Networking: 6 Apps to Meet New People and Build Professional Connections

Kathleen McAuliffe
Kathleen McAuliffe / August 24, 2017

Success isn’t just about what you know. Who you know plays an outsized role, too. Relationships spark our creativity, help us land jobs, teach us things we'd never learn on our own, and, frankly, make life more interesting.

Easier said than done, though. Cold emailing can feel like a sales pitch. Events are often hard to find—and harder to remember. Once you meet people, you still need to keep all the names and addresses straight. And besides remembering, you need to relate to them—enough that you can both connect each other to opportunities in the future.

It's a needful task, one that can help you find your next job—or the next person you'll hire at your company. And there are apps to make it easier. Here are 6 of the best tools to make new connections and network effectively.

6 Apps to Broaden Your Circle and Help You Network

crowd
So many people to meet, so little time to meet them. Choose wisely.

Odds are you won't just randomly bump into the people you want to meet on the street. Even if you attend all the right conferences, you'll still have to try hard to meet the right people.

And yet, meeting new people and building a strong network is one of the best ways to advance your career. As Rob Cross and Robert J. Thomas write in the Harvard Business Review, “The executives who consistently rank in the top 20% of their companies in both performance and well-being have diverse but select networks—made up of high-quality relationships with people who come from several different spheres and from up and down the corporate hierarchy.”

So how can you effectively do that, when you don't have enough time to meet people as it is? These apps can help:

Shapr (Android and iOS)

Best for meeting new contacts

Shapr

Remember how easy it was to make friends as a kid? Just show up at the playground, bond over your shared love of kickball, and bam! Instant connection. Unfortunately as adults, like-minded professional connections don’t just materialize from thin air.

Enter Shapr, a app that matches professionals in the same industries. Think of it as Tinder for networking. You’ll register through your LinkedIn account and add up to 10 interests, like startups and entrepreneurship. Each day, the app suggests 10-15 potential contacts for you based on those interests, location, and professional experience, ensuring you only receive contacts that are relevant for your needs and streamlining that initial search process.

You’ll swipe anonymously through profiles and when the interest is mutual, you’ll be matched—and can arrange to meet over coffee. No more worrying about spamming people with unsolicited requests.

  • Shapr Price: Free

Bizzabo (Android and iOS)

Best for networking with new people at conferences

Bizzabo

You (or your company) spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars attend business conferences in pursuit of new connections. But just try finding the person you need, let alone sparking a meaningful, intimate conversation in a packed conference hall of thousands.

Bizzabo's event apps can boost your chances. It filters through lists of event attendees and helps you message relevant people.

Just register with your LinkedIn account, and Bizzabo will automatically fill in your profile. You can then search for conferences in your area and register in-app. Even before you register, you’ll see a list of attendees, so you can assess the landscape before committing the hefty fee. When you’re at the event, just click on a name to see their company information, a link to their LinkedIn profile, and list of mutual connections—and an option to message them.

Bizzabo also lets you invite friends, add events to your calendar in-app, and share your attendance through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, so you can let your real-life circle in on the fun as well. And if you're running events, you can use Bizzabo's software to help manage attendees and help your attendees make the connections they want.

  • Bizzabo Pricing: Free mobile app for networking at events; custom pricing for Bizzabo's event management tools
  • Using Bizzabo to run your events? Connect Bizzabo with 750+ apps to automate your event management with Zapier's Bizzabo integrations.

CityHour (iOS)

Best for spontaneous meetings with other professionals

CityHour

Between the first introduction emails and back-and-forth scheduling messages, even a 15-minute coffee chat can take more than double that amount of time in planning. But with CityHour, you can network on a moment’s notice.

When you’ve a free moment to network, the app instantly connects you with like-minded professionals in a 50-mile radius who are also willing to connect. This eliminates all the lead time, carries a guarantee of having a conversation, and lets you convert your downtime into a productive networking session. Especially if you’ve just moved to a new city and haven’t broken into any local business communities, this app can give you the insider tips you need to further your career.

  • CityHour Price: Free

1 Million Cups (Android, iOS, and Web)

Best for group meetups with other entrepreneurs

1 Million Cups

For entrepreneurs and business leaders, networking is essential to survival. But between raising capital, managing employees, and actually growing your company, there's precious little time left to find new events and contacts. 1 Million Cups helps by organizing monthly meetings for entrepreneurs. Simply search for your city to find local events—the app supports communities across the United States from Aberdeen, South Dakota to Silicon Valley. And for a more intimate conversation, you can also search for individuals you want to meet.

It's an easy way to go to events where you know you'll learn from others in similar shoes.

  • 1 Million Cups Price: Free

FullContact (Android, iOS, and Web)

Best for organizing your contacts

FullContact screenshot

Between your professional email, personal email, old college account, client records, and LinkedIn, your contacts are spread out everywhere. That’s fine, until you need someone’s phone number and need to search through six inboxes for those seven digits.

And when you meet someone important in real life? Better commit their business card to memory before you accidentally throw it out—or more likely, you'll be left frantically Googling some misspelling of their name as if you’ve never met.

FullContact saves you from both situations, organizing all of your contacts—from all your apps and your paper business cards—into one app. Just register with your email and you can import your contacts from all of your accounts—Gmail, iCloud, and Office365—as well as Excel spreadsheets and social platforms. One login and you can access your full address book. Then, snap photos of your business cards with the mobile app, and it'll recognize the text and add them to your address book too.

Ideally, you’d keep in close enough contact to realize when people change companies, email addresses, or phone numbers. But sometimes, work piles up and people fall between the cracks. No worry—FullContact's Premium version will search the Internet once a month for updates to your contacts’ information and automatically keep your address book up-to-date.

  • FullContact Pricing: Free for 1k contacts and 10 business card scans; from $9.99/month Premium plan for 25k contacts and 50 business card scans per month
  • Connect FullContact with 750+ apps to automate your contacts workflow with Zapier's FullContact integrations.
  • For a deeper look at FullContact's features and pricing, check out our FullContact review.

Clearbit Connect (Gmail, Web)

For finding anyone's contact info

Clearbit Connect

Connecting to strangers is as easy as sending an email…as long as you can actually find their email address. But sometimes, you check their company website, LinkedIn, and even their social profiles only to come up dry. Sure, you know that most of the company’s emails go firstname.lastname@company.com, but even that's not working. So how you can find the right address without falling into an Internet blackhole?

Check out Clearbit Connect, a Google Chrome extension for Gmail that essentially acts as a search engine for email addresses right in your inbox. Click the Clearbit icon that appears in the top of your inbox and you can search for contacts at specific companies. For instance, if you were looking for someone at Zapier, you’d enter the name of the company and find a list of employees. From there, you can search for people by name or title. So if you wanted to talk to Wade Foster, you could search Wade Foster or if you didn’t know his name, just Co-founder or CEO would work, too. On each contact’s profile, you’ll find their email address and links to the social channels they’ve registered through that address.

And when you're reading emails, Clearbit's sidebar in Gmail will give you extra details about a contact, perfect to refresh your memory before reaching out to an old colleague.

  • Clearbit Pricing: Free Clearbit Connect for Gmail with 200 contact lookups per month; from $99/month Enrichment API for automatically finding contact info for 2.5k people per month
  • Connect Clearbit with 750+ apps to automatically find out more about all of your contacts with Zapier's Clearbit integrations.
  • For a deeper look at Clearbit's features and pricing, check out our Clearbit review.

Be a Human

These apps can help you find people to network with—but they can't do the networking for you. For every minute you save on sifting through contacts, spend a minute sending a personalized thank-you email, connecting an old coworker to a new opportunity, or mentoring one of your employees. You can save time on finding contacts or scheduling meetings, but you can’t shortcut your way into the mutually beneficial relationships you need to grow your career.

Have a great tip or app that's helped you make solid connections through networking? We'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

Conference table photo by Lee via Flickr; Crowd photo by Steve via Flickr.

Photo of Lawrence Watkins

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