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

GlobeSt.com: How does MyDealBook compare with existing sites in the real estate market?

Slack: To briefly address existing sites in the real estate market, such as ActiveRain, WannaNetwork , Inman and Zolve …those sites are only focused on residential real estate brokers and agents. They do not address the entire supply chain or ecosystem of real estate, ignoring most of the other 40-odd professions and roles. For commercial real estate, they are largely irrelevant.

GlobeSt.com: In an-ever expanding universe of social networks, how will MyDealBook distinguish itself?

Slack: MDB is first and foremost a professional network, not a social network. The idea of industry specific online professional networking tools is rather new and just now beginning to emerge in specific industries, such as law and real estate.

LinkedIn is the most prominent online professional network, but it’s too general for the needs of real estate industry participants. While LinkedIn does a good job of providing public profiles (aka, resumes) for job seeking, it all but ignores essential aspects of real estate. In real estate, activities and results are far more important than job history. Whether it’s a development, investment, design, transaction, renovation project, contract, legal case, or magazine article, where one works matters less than what one has achieved.

MyDealBook stresses the granular level of deals, which is a short word for the various activities described above. By listing activities and inviting others to validate those activities by joining your “deal”, real estate professionals can build credibility and visibility within the greater community. In essence, we’re breaking open the classic resume into its constituent parts and breathing life into the specific activities listed there.

In real estate, events such as networking mixers, conferences, training, social gatherings, and other industry functions are important. MyDealBook makes events one of its key areas, allowing its members to discover happenings nationally and locally, based on their professional needs. Further, we empower users to organize their own events and advertise them within the community, thus increasing attendance. Hosts can tag their events as relevant to specific professions, thus promoting the event to the desired type of attendee.

While real estate is inherently entrepreneurial, we do not always go to market representing ourselves as individuals. Rather, we represent organizations– companies, investment groups, professional associations, nonprofits and government agencies. On LinkedIn, which has evolved into a career/job-seeking site, people represent themselves as individuals. On MyDealBook, organizations are placed on an equal footing with people. Groups can use the site to attract new members, manage their membership, find new clients, organize events, connect to each other and present the sum collection of the activities (Deals) of their members.

GlobeSt.com: How quickly do you expect the site to grow?

Slack: We are launching first to the 350,000 professional PropertyShark members. We expect 100,000 to be active in the first month. From there, we expect members to invite their colleagues. Market size is about 10 million potential members in the United States, and we’re expecting to attract at least two million members by the end of 2009.

GlobeSt.com:Anything else?

Slack: Real estate is currently in a down market. No longer is lack of time the problem, but rather lack of opportunities. Financing is harder to come by, transactions have decreased and there is pressure on many professionals to leave the marketplace. MyDealBook addresses this problem twofold. At the individual level, MyDealBook improves the visibility of its members within the community, thus improving the share of the market going to MyDealBook’s members versus nonmembers.

At a more macroeconomic level, MyDealBook increases overall market transparency and communications. In turn, this increases the “velocity” of the market by decreasing the time it takes to find counterparts and close deals. Decreasing process time for deal phases increases the capital available in any given year, which means the entire market size increases. MyDealBook and its marketplace tools is one component in the effort towards market recovery.

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