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Business networking gets jolt from technology in Folsom, El Dorado Hills

By: Margaret Snider, Telegraph Correspondent
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FOLSOM CA - Business cards, handshakes and appetizers are traditional for most business mixers, but on June 21, expect the ?traditional? to get a jolt of technology. That?s the day uLinkNetwork.com is holding a Mega Mixer, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Lake Natoma Inn, 702 Gold Lake Drive, in Folsom. There will be food, swag bags for the first 150 to arrive, and giveaway gift cards amounting to $500 in value. The mixer will be attended by business professionals from all over the Sacramento region. Members are free, and nonmembers pay a $10 admission charge. The network is brain child of Jim Pelley, a founding organizer of Folsom Lake Bank and owner of Laughter Works Seminars, and Adam Frick, creator of FolsomLiving.com. The network went live in 2010. ?For about six or seven years (we) thought there?s got to be a better way to connect people,? Pelley said. ?To leverage technology but still have part of it face-to-face in relationship building that you need to give a confident business referral. The belief that it works all online just does not work, and the belief that it works all face-to-face doesn?t work.? Frick said uLinkNetwork makes it easy to manage referrals through its smartphone app. With traditional groups, passing referrals in writing and by hand at meetings makes for a cumbersome and inefficient process. ?We?re true 21st century networking,? Frick said. ?When you need a referral from uLinkNetwork, you get a text message on your phone instantly to let you know that you have a lead. So you don?t have to wait until the meeting, you get that referral right away.? The referral is received and follow-up up occurs with the touch of a thumb, using the uLink technology, and the whole interchange is logged and recorded in the system instantly. Besides the technology, the network offers twice monthly face to face meetings, monthly mixers, and Professional Organizational Development (POD) silos, which provide a venue for individual professions to meet regularly with those in their own field to go over industry issues. ?Another thing that has been really amazing for me with the group is that it?s not just a networking group,? said member Andi Redden, who owns Elite Fitness Coaching. ?It?s a business development group. So we have speakers come in. I?ve learned so much about social media, and how to market myself using the Internet, which I really wasn?t very familiar with.? The network consists of many groups, including five groups with a total of 95 members in the Folsom/El Dorado Hills area, Pelley said, and altogether 15 groups in the Sacramento region. There are additional groups in Houston, Texas, and the Seattle/Bellevue area of Washington. ?As far as we know, there is no other organization that is a network of groups,? Pelley said. ?Our philosophy is, it?s within the network, it?s whoever is best to serve the client. So a member in Folsom can refer to an attorney in Elk Grove if they feel that?s the best.? Pelley and Frick outlined other ways in which uLinkNetwork is an improvement over traditional networking organizations. It allows for a member of a particular profession for each 10 members in the group. So a group with 30 members could have, for example, three financial planners, or three real estate agents, Pelley said, allowing more latitude selecting the best professional for a specific need. ?A whole other avenue is we give each member a stand-alone Internet website that is fully optimized and search-engine marketed,? Pelley said. Folsom resident Dan Ryan, who owns Daniel Ryan Insurance Agency, has been a member for about eight months. ?Most groups meet every week and I found that very difficult to commit to and still try and see clients and operate my business,? Ryan said. ?uLink meets just twice a month, so the meetings are a little bit more powerful. ... The other thing I really like is the technology portion of the networking. The technology is really ... the driving factor of why I got back into networking groups.? * * * What: uLinkNetwork.com Mega Mixer When: 5-8 p.m., June 21 Where: Lake Natoma Inn, 702 Gold Lake Drive, Folsom Information: www.uLinkNetwork.com