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Networking site has eye on local business

To keep track of widespread pals, there are the social Web sites Facebook and MySpace. For business connections, there’s the sprawling site LinkedIn and others.

Two Spokane serial networkers, Bill Kalivas and Allen Battle, have launched a regionally focused network site, Their expectation is that it becomes a user-friendly site for professionals, activists and social types to find others and build closer relationships.

Its official launch is set for Nov. 20. Until then, the site’s “soft” launch has attracted about 200 members.

In addition to offering a space to find other like-minded people, LaunchPadINW organizes groups into communities around particular activities. Those include communities focused on nightlife, outdoors, “green” energy, and public relations and communications. Many groups schedule social meetings where people can meet face-to-face.

Battle, who runs a business development company called Strategic Solutions, said the power of the site should be in helping people develop stronger relationships.

“You really can’t build lasting relationships solely online,” he said. Personal meetings complete the goal of establishing real personal contacts and relationships, Battle said.

Added Kalivas, “Allen and I are natural networkers. But not everybody networks that easily. This is one way to help people find others with similar interests.”

Kalivas, now a regional sales manager for Force 10 Networks, a tech company, was instrumental in starting the LaunchPad series of networking events. Those annual gatherings, open to anyone, drew hundreds of people and served as a tech sector gathering point.

Kalivas retains the trademark to the LaunchPad event name. He said he plans to renew the tech-focused parties later, but the Web site is an online extension of the idea of bringing people together.

Another benefit is the added value of contacts during a down economy, Kalivas said.

“In a time of recession when people get laid off, you have to be networked to find out where there are other jobs or small business opportunities,” he said.


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