This Dutch startup wants you to network professionally with complete strangers, one handshake at a time

This Dutch startup wants you to network professionally with complete strangers, one handshake at a time

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Meeting new business contacts is not always easy. LinkedIn seems to be the preferred tool nowadays, but not everyone appreciates invites at random. A Dutch startup from Amersfoort launched an app dubbed HandShake, that allows you to network anywhere professionally with complete strangers.

Badges are useless

The professional market for this type of app is still largely lying waste, Marc van Ballegooijen, the entrepreneur behind of HandShake, states. “Still, the need for a meeting app in business must be as large as at home. Business meeting places like airport terminals, but also congresses and other (networking) events provide a number of ways to meet each other. Very often to facilitate this badges are worn – but how many people really look at these badges?”

Idea for Handshake

Enter Handshake. The only requirements to use the app are a smartphone (of course) and (surprise) a LinkedIn profile. The idea for HandShake came in a hotel lobby, waiting for a business partner. Van Ballegooijen was curious to know who these people who were sitting in the lobby were and what they could mean to one another, businesswise. He sees himself as the outgoing type who easily contacts people. Still, he doesn’t walk up to just anybody to start a conversation. In the lobby he asked himself a question: How can I arrange for people who are somewhere through the right business information, to select one another and have an appointment that same day?

Meeting app for professionals

HandShake thrives to be a meeting app that allows professionals to come in contact with one another anywhere through their LinkedIn profile and using localization. According to Handshake, many organisations have already used the app for their event as a service to their visitors. 25 percent of all visitors at the MVO Nederland 2017 event last year, were connected through the app. It comes in a version for both Android an iPhone.

Interesting new people

Here’s how it works: First, you want to search for professionals nearby. If you are a business professional and want to meet interesting new people for instance and you are visiting a trade fair, a network meeting, or you are working in flex workspaces. How do you find nearby that are of interest to you? Sign in on Handshake using your LinkedIn (or Xing, the German online rolodex) account, check who else is close and send a Handshake through the app.

Zoom in

Second, you can zoom in on people that seem interesting to you via the app and click to find out more via their LinkeIn-profile. That way, according to Handshake, it combines the force of online networking with real-life encounters.

Personal message

Third and last, if you have found someone, you send or receive a Handshake via a standard or a personal message and that’s the way you make real contact. Agree on where you will find each other: at a stand, entrance, coffee machine or wherever. Business done.

Close competitor

The app sounds like a pretty cool idea. But we’ve heard this pitch many times before, and in fact, we have seen similar startups. Close competitor Bizzabo from New York offers more services and has to date raised $8.5M in 4 rounds from 5 investors, which makes competition fierce. Selling to event organizers is a pain anyway, let alone if your startup has joined the party considerably late.

Handshake image by Shutterstock

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