[Chapter 15] Swiping Right with Mandy Menaker

This week’s installment of Walkin’ with Joaquin virtually takes me to New York City!

While having dinner with friends, one of them shared with me this app for meeting people. “Is this another Tinder?”, I jokingly asked. “Think of it as Tinder, but networking!”, my friend responded. I started swiping and, immediately, made connections on Shapr, the app he recommended. One of them is this week’s guest!

I am beyond excited to introduce to you my guest for this week, Mandy Menaker! She is the head of Public Relations at Shapr – -a data-driven networking tool where you can meet people that match your interests! We touched base on her time in university, the importance of meeting people on a daily basis, working with people from different countries, and the best opening line when networking.

One of Menaker’s favorite “after work” activity: cycling! [Photo was taken from]

Mandy admitted that she also did not know what to do as a career when she entered college. However, she knew in which learning environment she would thrive and used this advantage to narrow down her career choice. “I chose film school at NYU Tisch with a focus on producing because it was hands-on,” Menaker shared. It was one of her best decisions because she got to spend most evenings and weekends in developing her craft. “I even spent two weeks producing a film in Turkey!” Mandy mentioned.

JP: This is great advice from Mandy — know what learning environment that suits you. Take up projects, develop skills, and do some research. This is a great foundation on what you want to do later on.

With Mandy’s degree, I expected her to work in the movie industry or, perhaps, see her name in the movie credits. Her career went to a different path, focusing on Marketing and Public Relations. Does Mandy regret not taking a direct route to a Marketing degree? It doesn’t seem so. “When I was producing, I realized that I had been doing Marketing and Public Relations the whole time out of necessity,” Menaker responded. “Marketing ended up being the perfect blend of my interests and my dreams for a stable lifestyle.”

Does this mean that Mandy has totally forgotten all the hard work from film school? She uses her film skills quite regularly working with her boss and Shapr CEO Ludovic Huraux. “I actually filmed 10 interviews as part of a new show called Conversations with People Smarter Than Me”.

This interview series is already launched on Youtube! You can view the most recent interview by clicking here.

“Your network is your net worth”. I always heard this sentence quite often when I entered the professional world. There is no shortage of events where hundreds of handshakes and business cards are exchanged.

In today’s technology-driven world, even the world of networking is no stranger to adapting to technology. All you need is a swipe of a finger. I asked Mandy on her thoughts of this “new-age networking” that is growing in popularity. “I think there is a cultural shift to get offline and start to meet people face to face,” Menaker has high hopes on how networking will look like five years from now. “I would love Shapr to be just one way that people make networking part of their lifestyle”.

Part of the job. Menaker doing press and interviews for Shapr. [Photo used with permission from interviewee]

Mandy’s “swipe right” test. How does Mandy select which contacts to interact with? She looks
at the profile bio and his/her 10 interests. The job title is not important.
The best opening line in networking? “What is your side hustle?” It tells me more about a person’s passion and interests.
Networking venues. “Every time you meet someone new, that counts as networking!” Menaker responded. Networking is not limited to closed spaces or coffee shops. For Menaker, it can also be with fellow language learners, hiking buddies, and the person you sit beside at a housewarming or a ski lift — the possibilities of networking are endless!
What’s unique about Shapr? “It uses an algorithm built by data scientists to take your job title, networking goals, location, and interests into account,” Menaker replied. “Instead of endlessly browsing a ton of profiles, you get a daily batch of the most relevant and interesting people to meet, making networking efficient and seamless.”
Elements of a Shapr Bio. Make it short and catchy. “Think not only about what a person does, but what you have to offer them!

Shapr has its headquarters in New York and Paris. Despite working with international colleagues, Menaker does not consider cultural factors, such as accents, to be an issue. “Prior to Shapr, I spent five years building Fluent City, a language school that offers after work classes for adults,” Menaker shared. “Since I worked with 200+ teachers from around the globe, I was very comfortable with accents.”

Her experience with Shapr goes beyond trying to speak a bit of French. “Working at Shapr has enabled a window into a new culture”, Menaker mentioned. Her favorite cultural difference is taking actual lunch breaks instead of having lunch in front of your computer — something Americans rarely do. Overall, Menaker considers her time on Shapr not only a way to develop her professional career but also a “way to gain fresh perspectives and think about problems from new angles”, Menaker added.

Favorite app. “I have two!” Shapr and Classpass. “I’m a big fan of group exercise!”
Book recommendation. Mystery books, Harry Potter, and psychological thrillers. “At the end of the day, I like to give my mind a break by reading something so different from my work!”
Hosting Mandy in Toronto. I asked Mandy about what she is looking forward to eating if, at some point, I get to host her for dinner in my home city. “The best food is something personal,” Mandy responded. “Offering someone a bit of their food from your youth or your home country is an incredible compliment and a terrific way to see the world!”
Our networking activity in Toronto. “I would love to see your favorite spots in Toronto since I don’t know the city well!”

Shapr holiday party. [Photo used with permission from interviewee].

What does “women empowerment” mean for Menaker? As someone who works in the tech industry, she is able to represent women around the world on their ability to create, innovate, and make a difference. For Menaker, it’s about having the tools and support to speak up and fight for equal rights. “As a woman in business, I try to help by mentoring women through career conversations over coffee, participating in panels, and making sure I show up to vote!” Menaker replied.

Menaker sees women empowerment, not as a gender-exclusive movement. She also considers men as important parts of the equation. “We need male leaders and colleagues to be a part of the conversation,” Menaker added.

As for networking, she still acknowledges the reality and the fear that most people have when engaging in this activity. Before we ended this interview, she had this key advice to share. “It’s likely that the most important moments in your life involved other people,” Menaker started. “Think of networking as building friendships, not just helping your career. Networking is about building a support network around you.”

There are billions of people around the world. All you need is a swipe to the right to change your life.

On y va!

Be part of this networking phenomenon. All it takes is 2 minutes a day. Go download Shapr now! [photo used with permission from interviewee]

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