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MyDealBook is a social networking site geared toward the real estate industry. The site, which just launched nationwide, was formed to help real estate professionals expand their professional networks, find new business and manage projects. In the first of a two-part series, GlobeSt.com talks to CEO and founder Ryan Slack, former CEO of PropertyShark, about the site. and the role of social networking in the real estate industry.

GlobeSt.com: Can you briefly describe the mission of MyDealBook?

Slack: MDB’s vision is to create the end-all-be-all, interactive real estate networking directory and marketplace of people, organizations and activities. We’re focused only on intra-industry relationships between 42 roles and professions that compose the value chain of real estate, including principals (developers, property owners and investors), service providers (such as appraisers, architects, consultants), deal makers (brokers, salespeople), and non-market players (nonprofits, universities, government). So, our focus leans more towards commercial real estate than residential.

GlobeSt.com: What are your primary services?

Slack: We have two: a powerful online professional networking tool and cross-industry networking events that bring together members of all the various professions to mingle and connect in person. These events will be held quarterly in all the major real estate markets.

GlobeSt.com: What was the catalyst to create the site?

Slack: During my four years as CEO of PropertyShark, I discovered a large, latent demand among our members to connect with one another, either online or in-person. We hosted cross-industry networking events that often attracted more than 1,000 guests. In addition, our users wanted an online means to contact each other to discuss business opportunities, advertise services and find business partners, service providers and clients. Professional networking, a la LinkedIn, seemed to be the answer, so we built a website specifically tailored for the needs of the real estate industry.

GlobeSt.com: You’re targeting a broad range of sectors, including accountants, architects, developers, interior designers, lenders, brokers and investors. What will these real estate professionals get from this network?

Slack: Each profession comes with a different set of professional needs. We break down the segments into three groups: principals, service providers and deal makers. Each group has a different set of needs. Here are a few hypothetical, illustrative examples:

Wayne Marcus is an interior architect. His clients are new tenants in retail spaces who need to remodel the space to meet their business needs. However, these clients do not come to him, nor does he know how to find these clients directly. Instead, the leasing broker who needs Wayne to help close a deal or calm the nerves of clients about the cost to build out space brings him in. MyDealBook serves Wayne’s needs by allowing him to expand his contacts among leasing brokers as well as display his track record of interior architecture projects. Doing so, improves his future flow of business to him.

Mariam Connelly is a property manager who runs a bed and breakfast on the North Fork of Long Island. She just recently got into property management when a wealthy neighbor asked her to show his property to prospective summer tenants. Not long after, she found that she was managing a small stable of three properties.

She wanted to expand her nascent property management business but found it hard to reach absentee property owners many of whom already had property managers. Talking to her real estate attorney one day, he told her that he had more than a half-dozen clients who owned property in the area that sat vacant most of the year. Mariam struck on an idea and decided to use MyDealBook to connect to real estate attorneys who could send leads her way. She lists her current property management contracts in her Deals to show references and that she knows what she is doing.

Jon Finkelstein is an urban developer who has worked on several $1-million to $2-million renovation projects and is trying to break into larger deal sizes. He is having trouble attracting capital because of his lack of contacts as a relative outsider to the industry. He knows that he cannot just overtly advertise his deals because of SEC securities laws about solicitation, but he would like to develop a larger pool of investors to draw from.

MyDealBook helps Jon raise his profile among investors by posting his Deals and inviting other Deal members to join his deals. Doing so increases the credibility and gives potential investors references to contact. Further by generally advertising himself as a developer who puts together certain types of projects, he avoids breaking any securities laws on solicitation.

Sam Moorhead is a dentist and an avid real estate investor. He owns a couple of single-family income properties but wants to get started in multifamily buildings and possibly small shopping centers or office buildings. He is looking at buying the building in which he rents his office space. He is at a loss for how to get started and needs a lot of things: advice, contacts, financing and investment opportunities. MyDealBook helps with all of these by increasing his visibility as an investor. He is able to control with whom he speaks and avoid being preyed on, while cherry picking clearly helpful people to get himself up the learning curve.

He uses the tool to join an investment club of like-minded investors, and he attends some seminars and networking events that he found on the site. Not long after, he makes the plunge into commercial real estate investing with others through a private placement in an LLC. The managing members of the LLC use MyDealBook to keep Sam abreast of the latest news about the investment, sharing files and quarterly reports with him and his fellow investors, all while keeping the information private and secure.

Terry Kraft is a real estate consultant and often goes to networking events. She comes home with 50+ business cards but finds that many of the contacts are not immediately actionable. She inevitably puts the business cards into a bundle held with a rubber band and plans to put them into MS Outlook on the weekend. She’s frustrated, because when she comes back to many of these entries weeks and months later, she knows little about these people except where she met them. She cannot even pull up a face in her memory.

Terry discovers that MyDealBook allows her to cement her connections immediately, by inviting these users to connect to her on the site. All she needs to enter is the e-mail address of the contact and she’s on her way. Once connected, she is able to see that person’s photograph, which reminds her of the conversation she had. In addition, she can keep a running tab on that person’s professional activities and strike when the iron is hot to offer her consulting services. Further, her contacts are in turn made aware of her activities on an ongoing basis and may proactively seek her out for advice.

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