Ryan Gonsalves, founder & CEO of 2ndwind Academy
Can you share a little about what makes you an authority on building a great network?
I’ve mixed up my career path multiple times in different geographies. To thrive, I’ve built networks in diverse cultures, languages and for different reasons. As i’ve moved roles, I’ve been able to combine the networks to make a more powerful outcome for the businesses I’ve worked for and my own company.
How important is networking for professional success, and why?
Networking is critical. It opens up opportunities to meet people who have already achieved what you are striving for, as well as those you can assist in reaching their goals.
What's your usual ice-breaker question when meeting someone for the first time?
I don’t have such a script for when I meet someone. Usually I like to find out what they do in their downtime or to relax. Understand who and/or what is important to them. Often, a common motivation or past time is a great way to be memorable, make another connection or an invitation for follow-up an initial meeting
How do you approach networking differently when you're meeting someone in person versus virtually?
When having a conversation, I don't intentionally act differently, especially if my goal is to understand who the person is and what they value. However, if the conversation is virtual, I'm aware of the fatigue that can come with it. Without additional physical cues, the overall session may be a bit shorter.
What are some common mistakes people make when trying to build their professional network, and how can they avoid them?
In my podcast, 2ndwind Academy, i speak with athletes going through career transition. We frequently touch on the importance of networking and the challenges they face. Two clear mistakes repeated emerge (1) not attending! Intentionally avoiding situations where opportunities can be created due to lack of knowing what to say (2) thinking that you need qualifications to open up a conversation. Ok, so want to expand your network, imposter sydnrome takes over and people start to look for qualifications to open up a conversation and create a connection
Have you noticed any differences in the types of relationships you build through in-person versus virtual networking? If so, can you describe those differences?
I typically form virtual relationships with the expectation that we will eventually meet in person. "Great to meet you in the flesh" is a phrase we often use.
Upon reflection, I realise that my virtual-only relationships tend to be more task-focused. Trust is built based on delivering value for specific tasks, rather than connecting over broader lifestyle activities.
What are some strategies you've found effective for building rapport and establishing trust with someone you've only just met?
I’m a naturally curious person, so i find listening without an expectation of needing to respond. Leaving space for the person i’ve just met to talk, finish their thought without the need for me to right, better or counter.
How can someone use social media and online networking to expand their professional network?
I think connecting with individuals is one of the most important aspects. It’s great to build likes and follows, however, i still feel the human element is needed to create a valuable professional network
What advice would you give to someone who is new to networking and trying to make connections in their industry?
Understand what the industry values. Learn who you’re meeting fits into the industry value chain.
Figure out how the value you bring is relevant. So it means when.you create a new connection, you’re able to quickly understand their strategy and challenges.
Listen to understand. Not second guessing or trying to think of a clever question.