Rich Swier Interview – Entrepreneur and Angel Investor
Rich Swier is an evangelist for building a stronger entrepreneurial community in the State of Florida and has spoken at multiple national conferences on the state of Venture Capital, and his vision of “Venture Creation”.
Rich invests in emerging companies through his venture capital firm Startup Florida. Startup Florida is the first managed angel fund and venture creation company in the State of Florida.
Prior to Startup Florida, Rich founded numerous successful companies, including: Sarasota Online, one of the first Internet Service Providers and Online City Guides in Florida — which was later acquired by Comcast Cable (CMCSA) as the prelude to a national rollout of its cable-modem network.
I’m pleased to bring you Rich Swier…
Josh: How do you define Business Networking and why do you feel it is important?
Rich Swier: Business Networking is simply building relationships for building your business. Business Networking is important because it truly is the only way to effectively grow your business.
Most people think about Networking as a way to get new customers, but in reality networking is about meeting people that can bring new opportunities to you personally and your business.
A great example, is finding a great sales person to hire. Before I would ever place an ad in the classifieds, I would go to my network and ask people I trust for referrals.
Josh: Can you share one idea that someone could put into practice that would help them to improve their business networking skills?
Rich Swier: I recommend everyone embrace a simple principal – focus on giving. The best way to build a relationship, and ultimately connect with people is to understand their business and their needs, and see if there is a way to help them succeed.
As an example, I believe one of the best places to network and build relationships in a community are local charities. Getting involved in the community is a great way to improve your network and your skills, because you are not driven by self-interest, but driven by a community goal.
Josh: Rich, you’re one of the founders of Fast Pitch! a business networking community. Can you tell us a bit about what makes it unique, as well as how it can benefit someone in their networking efforts.
Rich Swier: Fast Pitch is a social network for business, but we believe we have tapped into something very unique and valuable to our members. The key to the entire community is that we connect people based on content they create. We don’t just depend on the existing relationships they have, but instead we allow them to contribute to the community, and based on how much they contribute their network will flourish.
Over the past year, we have added the capability for members to add their blogs, post press releases and include interactive video and podcasts on their profiles. We have found that the members who create and share content have the most successful networks and experience on Fast Pitch.
Josh: How do you encourage referrals from your network?
Rich Swier: Fast Pitch (www.fastpitchnetworking.com) is truly a community-oriented network. We encourage our members to build relationships based on shared interests or goals. When a member joins Fast Pitch! we analyze their profile and start connecting them to other members based on questions we have asked including industry, geography and what they buy and sell.
We recently launched Groups as part of Fast Pitch which allows users to create communities where users can join a group and share thoughts, networks and ultimately do business.
Josh: With first impressions being so important, can you share some effective ways to begin a conversation?
Rich Swier: The best advice I can give someone is to always start off with a questions. The best way to connect with someone is to ask the questions about their family, their work and their background. As you learn more about them you will be able to find similarities and shared interests that you can connect with and potentially build a relationship.
(Shameless Plug) – One of the key components we studied at Fast Pitch is the Member Profile, and how to build a profile to model a “first impression conversation”. We include a person’s background, work history and information that another member could read in less than a minute to see if there is a connection.
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