Expert Advice On Business Networking And Tips On Developing Your Networking Skills

Interview with Ryan Mapes of GoBigNetwork.com

Ryan Mapes is one of the original folks behind www.GoBigNetwork.com — the world’s largest community for entrepreneurs, early stage investors, advisors, and other professionals; all who have an interest in the growth of startup businesses. He currently manages the company’s B2B partnerships and advertising division.

Ryan has a background in finance and entrepreneurship and has been involved in several startup ventures in the US and abroad. He was also a partner at Value View Financial, an investment advisory company that serves clients and publishes a financial report worldwide. He currently devotes his time to his work at Go BIG, his new wife, and traveling abroad whenever possible.

Josh: How do you define Business Networking and why do you feel it is important?

Ryan Mapes: In my mind, business networking is any activity that creates relationships with the hope that these new contacts will develop into an opportunity immediately or some time in the future.

Networking is valuable on a number of levels. But, most importantly, networking creates opportunities where none may have existed previously. I’m constantly amazed at how often a timely opportunity pops up as a result of a connection that I may have developed several years back.

Josh: Can you share one or two ideas that someone could put into practice that would help them to improve their business networking skills?

Ryan Mapes: I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to always be prepared to create and maintain a business relationship with somebody. It may not be apparent at the time, but you’d be amazed how handy a loose contact may be 2 years down the road.

My advice for networkers is to embrace technology, especially networking opportunities created by the Internet (I’m biased here!). On many online social networks, I’ve seen members that have created 10 or 20 thousand contacts. Obviously, they can’t possibly have strong relationships with every single contact. But, the power (and exposure) that comes from the sheer volume of this many connections is unbelievable.

With that said, I believe it’s important to build up a large network of connections, but also look to build deeper relationships with some of the core contacts that you create. This could be as simple as shooting over a quick email once every few months. Or, if you’re in the area, take the time to grab a quick cup of coffee. I find that if I can put a face with a name, that connection pops to my mind much more quickly when an opportunity presents itself.

Finally, take a few minutes once a month to scan through your list of contacts. This keeps your brain flowing for potential opportunities within your network. It’s easy to fall into the habit of continually adding people to your rolodex without periodically revisiting the list of people that you’ve added over time.

Josh: Do you see any common mistakes people tend to make when it comes to attempting to make business connections? If so, what are they and what corrections could they make in your opinion which would help them to be more effective in their approach towards networking?

Ryan Mapes: This list is endless! But, the biggest mistake I see is a lack of follow-up after meeting someone. If you meet an important contact and exchange business cards, be sure to send a quick email when you get back to the office. This can help solidify the relationship and open up the doors for further correspondence down the road. People commonly let important contacts go stale because they haven’t made contact with the person for several years after they initially met. Don’t let this happen! Again, a simple email once every few months will go a long way.

Josh: Ryan, you’re one of the folks behind GoBigNetwork.com — for those who may not be familiar with it yet, can you share a bit about it, as well some of the key benefits that they can expect should they decide to plug into the community you all have going over there?

Ryan Mapes: The Go BIG Network is the world’s biggest online community of startup companies. It’s a great place for startups to find funding or connect with other resources to help grow the business to the next level.

Go BIG is commonly referred to as the Craig’s List for startups. You can post a Request (classified ad) for several services including Funding, Jobs, or a Project that you need completed. You can also directly contact investors or other entrepreneurs on the site. Or, gain/exchange some business knowledge in the Forums.

Josh: Can you share a personal “networking” success story with us?

Ryan Mapes: While in college, I met the founder of a large manufacturing company who was a guest speaker at an event we held. He invited me to work on a major project with him in NYC. — From there, I was introduced to Wil Schroter who also happened to work with the project… and the Go BIG Network was born! It was a long journey, but several amazing opportunities can be traced back to one simple connection that I made.

*brought to you by BusinessNetworkingAdvice.com

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  • Thom Singer

    Josh-

    This is a great interview. He does an above average job of hitting on the importance of networking.

    thom

  • Josh Hinds

    Thom, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Ryan really did share some terrific ideas I agree 🙂

    All the best, Josh

  • Carolyn

    Josh,

    A question I would have liked to ask him would have been; what social networking sites would he suggest to be a part of?

    What would your opinion be?

    Thanks for writing,
    Carolyn

  • Josh Hinds

    Hi Carolyn, that’s a great question. One with no shortage of potential good answers 🙂

    There are a number of answers to your particular question which show up in several different interviews which I’ve done throughout this site. Some of the more common ones which are mentioned are” Facebook.com and LinkedIn.com. Offhand I’d say, Facebook.com, LinkedIn.com and Twitter.com — also have a look at biznik.com (you’ll also find an interview with one of it’s founder Dan McComb on this site).

    Again, this certainly isn’t an exhaustive list, rather it’s a few that come to mind off the top of my head.

    I also recommend folks doing a quick google search for social networks which might be geared towards their specific industry or interests. There’s no shortage of forums, blogs, or resources geared specifically towards ones interest that a spending a little time searching for won’t reveal.

    Hope this helps, and thanks again for posting your question here.

    -Josh 🙂