The Connections Groups
is sponsored in part by the:

Central FL's largest business networking & social organization
Currently 12,000+ members...   FREE Membership! 
wpe13.jpg (654 bytes) Orlando   wpe13.jpg (654 bytes) Tampa Bay   wpe13.jpg (654 bytes) Pinellas   wpe13.jpg (654 bytes) Brevard

Navigate Site
About us
Basic Membership: FREE
Circle of "I" Membership
Get Connected Sponsors

Connections Leads Groups
Orlando Events
Tampa & Pinellas Events
Brevard Events

Submit your Event
Coaching TeleConferences
Give us Your Feedback
Photo Gallery

AD/Sponsorship Rates
Submit your Event
BiZ TipZ & TriX
Business News
Member Highlights

Member Profiles
Auditions & "Biz Buzz"
Business Listings
Employment / Job Listings
"Event Buddy" Board

Area Events
Orlando Events
Tampa & Pinellas Events
Brevard Events

Submit your Event

Orange Bee
can guarantee you
new sales!
(click to learn how)

"The Marionette"


Free Membership
Supported by Sponsors, basic membership is free.  We don't share your address with anyone else.

Your Name:

Your eMail address:

Your city or area:


We're looking out for you!  More benefits with "Circle of I"
Apply NOW!

Are you a...
Spokes Model?
Event related business?

Get a FREE listing now!

Free Leads Groups
Our Leads Groups are the "no rules" Groups... not limited by profession - everybody is welcome!

Orlando Area Groups
Tampa & Pinellas Groups

Member Benefits
FREE benefits include weekly events newsletter, posting boards, weekly Leads Groups, event promotion and lots of networking and social opportunities!

Free Posting Boards
Auditions & "Biz Buzz"
Member Profiles
Business Listings
Employment / Job Listings
"Event Buddy" Board

Meet our Directors
Sue Copening, Exec Dir.
Suzie Vigon, Events Dir.
Teri Siciliano, Events Dir.
John Bach
Michelle Beaudry
Mike Bondi
Chris Buxton
Michelle Dettlaff
David Doerges
Carl Green
Ed Warren
Dan Erminger
Elizabeth Hall
Mike Hsu
Michael Rodriguez
Scott Sabulsky
Scott Kidd
John Springer
Richard Shuman

Sponsor Links



United First Financial™
MMA - Money Merge Account™

Mortgage & Debt-Free
in as little as 8 - 11years

...simply a new tool for the
financially savvy


Free Posting Boards

Business Listings


Sponsor Links



Click for the Connections
Photo Gallery


NEWS Connection

>> Headlines:
(Click to jump to the story)
> Orlando to host the "Olympics of Diversity!"
> A new Mindset - No Debt!
> Books for Kids
> S.T.A.R.S. Students Need Your Help!
> Java John's Acoustic Record Radio Show
> New "Pantomime Studios" Opens
> Settlement Reached with Yellow Pages

> Orange Bee Money Guarantees New Customers
> Singing, Networking & Tuskegee Airmen
> World Premiere of Nicholas J.'s "The Marionette"
> You Can Help Locate a Missing Child
> Florida Filmmaker Debuts at LA Film Festival
> Kidz Unite for Kids

Orlando to host the
"Olympics of Diversity!"

National Urban League Conference coming in '08

The National Urban League Annual Conference represents the largest gathering of African American professionals in the nation. Conference attendees include a wide-cross section of African American and others, and represent some of the most dynamic and influential leaders in the corporate, foundation, nonprofit, entertainment and political communities.

Movement members and other conference attendees meet to dialogue about the most critical issues confronting the African-American and urban communities and to strategize about empowering solutions.

The conference offers numerous opportunities for forging or augmenting partnerships and marketing initiatives, as well as for networking and recruiting qualified job applicants through the free, onsite Employment Zone (career fair).

Dozens of the nation's most dynamic/Fortune 500 companies take advantage of the opportunity to exhibit their products and services in the Exhibit Hall.

Visit the Metropolitan Orlando Urban League WEB SITE for more information on the conference as it is organized and grows...


The Metropolitan Orlando Urban League is looking for more than 300 volunteers to assist during the 2008 National Urban League Conference. All interested parties should contact Shellie Minnis at 407-841-7654 ext 331.
For more information about the National Urban League's 2008 Annual Conference, exhibitor or sponsorship opportunities contact:
Dr. E. Lance McCarthy @ (407)841-7654
or by email emccarthy@metorlandoul.org 


United First Financial™ Gives Us New Way to Build Equity, Wealth & Pay Off Debt
…it is now smooth sailing for American homeowners with the new DEBT-FREE mindset.

Buying a home is the largest investment many Americans will ever make. Our home is the foundation for our financial security. The true cost of a home, however, has always been hidden. Many homeowners have never calculated what the home really costs once finance and interest charges are factored in.

What if you purchased a home and secured a $200,000 mortgage on it? At 6 percent, that 30-year mortgage would add over $231,677 in interest to the cost of your home, more than doubling its purchase price. At the same time, because mortgage interest is effectively front-loaded, the equity in your home builds very slowly the first few years.

Did you really mean to spend almost a half million dollars on a home that is really worth half that?

Of course not, but few people have the resources to buy a home for cash and, since we must have a home to live in, we are happy to finance a home and pay interest.

DVD.gifBut what if we could pay less than HALF of the normal interest for that same home? What if we could pay that home off in as little as 8 to 11 years, build EQUITY faster, with no increase to our current monthly mortgage payments, and no change to our standard of living?

United First Financial™s' unique product, the Money Merge Account™,  helps homeowners do just that. Real Estate and Mortgage professionals around the nation are embracing this program because it truly helps their client … the American Homeowner.

After 2.5 million dollars in development costs, the founders of United First Financial™ have released a software program that, combined with a home equity line of credit, allows us to accomplish two things…Pay down our mortgage in about one-third of the normal time, thus building EQUITY faster, AND, set up a financial cushion, with instant access to our equity.

This program, called the Money Merge Account™, was originally field-tested with 400 American Homeowners. Their thoughts and experiences can be read on the UFF site. When reading what the actual users of the program think about UFF, the words “amazing,” “very impressed. “incredibly positive” and “the real deal” just jump off the page. Part of the rapid growth of the company has been through the recommendations of clients to their own friends and family.

The Money Merge Account™ is a very attractive and practical alternative to refinancing ones home.

It also allows young homeowners to upgrade their homes faster as their family grows, and it requires very little change to their spending habits and no change to their standard of living.

couple.gifHow did the Money Merge Account™ come to be?

The history of the Money Merge Account™ began nearly a decade ago, when Skyler Witman and John Washenko launched Accelerated Equity which, in three years, became one of Utah’s fastest growing mortgage companies. But, in the face of all of this growth, Skyler and John began to notice the overwhelming mountain of debt their customers were accumulating. Many were refinancing over and over again (at huge costs). They wanted to help relieve the onerous burdens their customers were encountering.

In the summer of 2002, the partners discovered a method used successfully in Australia and Europe to pay down mortgages in record time. This method required no day-to-day financial impact, while paying off debt and saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest. They saw that this method would have two impacts…it would help their clients build equity faster, thus becoming more financially secure, and it would still help them sell more mortgages, as their clients would be in a position to upgrade their homes more quickly. They would be helping their clients build a stronger financial future.

Further research motivated Skyler and John to develop a top-notch IT division and contract with a mathematical engineer from GE Aeronautics to begin creating the mathematical algorithms (math engines) and system programming that would become the very heart of the Money Merge Account™ software. This software took an already successful equity-building program, and made it easier to use. By taking the guesswork out of it for the homeowner, they increased the savings, too!

Millions of dollars were invested to develop the software, and results from the 400 clients in the initial test program were staggering. They achieved results even better than predicted!

Homeowners with a traditional 30-year mortgage were on track to become mortgage-free in as little as 8 to 11 years, all while paying off other debt in the process!

The reality was a rate of 20% better savings and payoff time (on average) than was initially predicted.

With new partners, and a company name, United First Financial™, these mortgage veterans have now launched the Money Merge Account™, and this concept is exploding across the nation.

Building equity in a home is a combination of two factors -- paying down the principal on the mortgage, and the rising property value. Building equity in our home is our first step toward security and financial freedom. Equity allows us to trade up into a larger home. Equity gives us leverage to use with other investments. Equity, when used correctly, even gives us a financial cushion in times of need.

But things have changed recently for American property owners. In the past two years, with the costs of homes skyrocketing, Americans have looked for alternative ways to finance their homes, and many have extended themselves to the breaking point to pay for the roof over their head. ARMs (adjustable rate mortgages), interest-only mortgages, and other types of home financing have been used in order to get into a more costly home, with the assumption, by the homeowners, that they will be able to refinance down the road and that the home will continue to increase in value quickly.

So now, a combination of market and economic factors are placing many homeowners in precarious positions. If we think of home ownership and wealth/equity building like sailing ... for many of us the wind is no longer at our back. The wind has died. We are dead in the water and we hope a storm is not approaching.

What are the coming storms? Many ARMs are going to have interest rates adjusted upward in the next couple of years, and experts predict a wave of foreclosures as a result. Negative-Equity mortgages are a nightmare for people whose homes are not appreciating in value.

Some experts predict one in four ARMs will go into foreclosure.

Even the average homeowner, with a 30-year mortgage, could find themselves in a tight spot if they want to sell a couple of years down the road. With RE prices staying flat, or even dropping in some areas, and with the small amount of equity they have built in their home in the first year or two, some homeowners may find themselves in a low- to negative-equity position and find it difficult to sell their homes.

screen.gifThe United First Financial™ Money Merge Account™ is a program that addresses all of these situations in a very positive way. It can even be a financial lifeboat in future times of need…whether a job loss, medical crisis, or just unlucky circumstances.

As an alternative to refinancing, as well as a vehicle to ensure financial cushion, the equity line allows the consumer to access funds up to their equity line, anytime. This cushion provides the ability to put every spare penny toward principal pay-down on the mortgage, and the UFF software keeps us on track by showing us a daily target date for mortgage payoff.

Professionals are jumping on board with UFF to help their clients.

Mortgage Brokers, Real Estate Professionals, Financial Planners, and Bankers are all embracing the Money Merge Account™ as a way to help their clients while increasing their business. This just makes sense. For professionals in the real estate and financial services industries, the program is a value-added service that helps a realtor sell more houses as clients can afford to upgrade more quickly, helps a banker or mortgage broker sell more loans -- perhaps the equity line itself -- or again, more primary mortgages as people upgrade homes sooner, and Financial Planners see it as a way to get clients in a position where they are free to invest more money to ensure financial security.

How does it work?

The UFF software acts as a financial dashboard &"GPS" system -- prompting the homeowner when to move money from the open-ended equity line into the closed-ended principal mortgage to achieve maximum savings. Homeowners pay their income into the equity line, keeping the average daily balance down and interest low on the open-ended line of credit, while having the maximum impact on the interest saved on the primary mortgage. The UFF software takes all of the homeowner’s debts and financial aspects in mind and learns from previous history. It is a financial dashboard, steering wheel, and GPS system all rolled into one dynamic workhorse system that keeps homeowners on the right course toward financial freedom.

Traditionally, homeowners have had a mortgage with, for example, a 6 percent interest rate, a savings account (their traditional cushion) at perhaps 3 percent, and a checking account, with a few thousand dollars just sitting there doing nothing.

But, with the UFF–MMA program, the equity line is used like a checking account. The equity line provides a financial cushion so the savings account is unnecessary, and the money float starts working FOR the homeowner, not against him or her.

At the end of the program, the mortgage balance, other debts, and the equity line have a zero balance. The Money Merge Account™ software charts the course toward financial freedom -- and it is easy, smooth sailing for the American homeowner.

To learn more about United First Financial™
and the Money Merge Account™…
Call: Sue Copening,
UFF Independent Agent #54004

Or call: 407-275-2956
If you are a professional in the Real Estate, Mortgage or Financial industries and would like to find out how you can add the MMA to your portfolio of products and services , email...

Or call: 407-275-2956


:: Books for Kids
Hello Foundation for Second Chances, Inc. heads pilot program for disadvantaged kids

Foundation for Second Chances, Inc has been selected by First Book; an international nonprofit that has distributed more than 46 million new books to children from low-income families; to pilot a special holiday effort to distribute new books to children in Los Angeles.

Through this special partnership, every $2.00 contributed between October 20 and November 20 will provide a brand new children's book to a child we serve. 100% of funds collected will be used to provide books
specially selected by our staff to children in our program (samples from various age categories are included below). Your gift to First Book is also tax deductible.

Please support this effort as we are trying to make sure that our
children/youth have books to read.

Please use the following link to
start making your contributions:

Melissa M. Wyatt, Founder/President
www.ffscinc.org  (310)383-0785


March '06: Read about
Connections Member,
College Park artist
Holly Picano-Rogers

in Orlando Arts Magazine, March 2006 issue.

Those of you that attended our "Women's Expo" about a year ago know that the beautiful art of the beautiful Holly graced the cover of our Directory for that event.

You can pick up copies of Orlando Art's magazine at Urban Think bookstore on Central , downtown and at bookstores such as Borders in Winter Park Village.  You can see Holly's art on her web site at http://www.hollypicano.com


S.T.A.R.S. Students
Need Your HELP!

Since 2003, S.T.A.R.S. Inc. (Supplies TO Assist ouR Students) has been providing backpacks and school supplies to needy children in the Orange County Public Schools. Our first year we provided 2,674 backpacks with school supplies to only 6 Elementary Schools. Last year we did 8,433 which included all grade levels in 32 schools. This coming school year we are trying to do even better by providing 11,500 students with these supplies to get them started.

Our only source of income is through donations by individuals, schools, businesses and churches. With good shopping we have been able to buy enough in bulk so that it costs us about $10 per child. This means we must raise over $110,000 by the end of July. Maybe our expanded goal to 11,500 was too big a jump but we were trying to take that "leap of faith" we hear so much about. Right now we are NO WHERE near our goal. We need help from all who are involved in the Connections Groups whether you are just an individual or a business. Our organization is a 501(c)(3) IRS approved non-profit group so any donations you make not only help those less fortunate than we, but also provide you with a tax deduction.

So that you will know, not one penny received is used for salaries, or perks of any kind. All staff are full volunteers who are dedicated to helping those in need without any payment. Every child needs the right tools to succeed, just like you do at work. For students it means a backpack and supplies. We are the only organization I know of that gets these supplies to the students BEFORE school starts so they can feel comfortable in their classroom on the first day of school.

S.T.A.R.S. is endorsed by the Orange County Public Schools, Ministerial Association, Chamber of Commerce and many other businesses, organizations, churches and individuals who make our Back-To-School Drive such a huge success.

Won't you, or your business, please give generously to the children who need us. Your organization does a lot of networking. Perhaps you might know of others willing to get involved. These children are our future. Take part in it. DONATE TODAY!!!

Our website will give you additional information.
Contact us at 407-292-3559 or through
our site: http://www.supportstars.com

"Java" John's
(9am-1pm M-F)
On-LINE at www.theacousticrecord.com

Connections Groups member "Java" John Goldacker is now On The Air, Worldwide, with his own brand new radio program "THE ACOUSTIC RECORD" on the Tropic Wave Radio Network.
The show is named after the weekly newsletter handed out at the music venue John, with his wife Jennifer, owned and operated for four years, (KOOL BEANZ Coffeehouse), and after itís closing a bi-weekly area music e-newsletter that John has published to keep folks in touch with local live music.
The On-Line program kicked off Monday June 5th, 2006 at 9am (eastern time).
The Acoustic Record radio show features the finest music by Local, Regional, and National Touring Artists, both on CD, and Live in the Studio. John will also have call-in interviews with musicians, authors and other pop culture figures. Some artists of note who've already expressed interest in appearing on the show... LARRY BURNETTE (founding member of Firefall); Members of TOTO; JOHN HALL (Orleans); KENNY EDWARDS (ex-Stone Pony with Linda Ronstadt); JOHN McEUEN (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band); JOHN TOWNSEND (Sanford Townsend Band); STORY MUSGRAVE (astronaut, poet); LORIN ROWAN (The Rowan Brothers); and DAVID GANS (author, musician, and longtime host of the Grateful Dead Radio Hour).
As a warm-up to his own show, "Java John" guest hosted for Jackie McCoy & Susan Ramon on their Tropic Wave show "What's Happening Brevard," that week's guests included musician FREEBO (long time Bonnie Raitt partner) fresh from his stint as a guest vocalist on the new Neil Young CD, PHILLIP CHEIN who authored the recent book "Columbia - Final Mission," and Rev. SUE BAILEY of The New Church. All are expected to join John on the Acoustic Record program.
The 4 hour show, based on the classic AOR (album oriented rock) format will also feature New Music by some past heroes (that many folks think may have faded into obscurity), artists like: Donovan, John Hall, Linda Ronstadt, Arlo Guthrie, Crosby & Nash, Eric Burden, Todd Rundgren, and many others who no longer get their new songs played on commercial radio, but have in fact produced some of the finest works of their careers. You may also expect lots of trivia, some giveaways, tour announcements, and gig listings.
Monday - Friday 9am-1pm (EDT)

>>> A little more about John:
"Java" John Goldacker has been a Merritt Island, Florida resident for a large part of the past thirty years. His loves are his family, art, and of course music. John designs business & band logos & websites, festival posters, and illustrated the recently published, award winning, children's book based on a local landmark "RIVER DRAGON." He also has a collection of over 100 portraits of Music Celebrities that he has gotten autographed by each of the subjects, like... Ringo Starr, Pete Best, Steve Miller, Willie Nelson, Heart, George Carlin, Pat Benatar, James Taylor, Crosby Stills & Nash, Arlo Guthrie, Peter Paul & Mary, and many others.
Contact Java John at: 1-888-762-8153 ext: 942

NEW "Pantomime Studios" Opens
...increase the quality of your sales presentations
...Become a better public speaker
...Learn a new profession in the entertainment realm

The new, Orlando based, "Pantomime Studios" welcomes everybody, from professional actors to people who appreciate art. Pantomime is a complete art in itself, and those who learn it, find that this artistic disipline also enhances their work in all performance areas, such as the traditional theatre, dance, film,  stage performance, stand-up comedy, and television acting.

The art of pantomime will also benefit those of you outside the entertainment world.  It can help you be more successful if you are involved in corporate events, sales presentations, public speaking, as well as simply enhancing interaction in your daily life's activities.

The great advantages of pantomime are the abilities to attain total body control and muscle articulation.  Pantomime also helps you develop a captivating physical "presense" as well as increasing your confidence when in the public eye.

Pantomime Studios is led by world class talent, and headed by Nicholas J., former student, and protege, of pantomime legend Marcel Marceau. Nicolas J. is also a producer and director for the 4 time award wining film: "The Marionette." Instructors also include professional actress Hatuna Oliver, actress and show entertainment choreographer.

You will fall in love with the art of Pantomime, and when you do, if you are interested in making this part of a whole new profession (and depending on your talent and dedication for this art) you'll be given opportunities to perform in front of live audiences, and to audition for World Gate Entertainment. Opportunities are unlimited!

Pantomime Studios offers a variety of classes to improve your acting skills and stage presence. You will gain self-confidence, achieve total mental and physical health, improve your body posture and overcome stage fright.

Turn Your Talent into a new Profession.... or just learn new skills and techniques that you can use to be more successful in your current profession.

Classes are flexible, depending upon your goals and interest you can enroll in anything from a a 3 months to a 2 year program of intensive workshops (1st class is FREE)

Classes are limited and require advance registration.


Attorney General Settlement with Yellow Pages, Inc. Leads to Consumer Warning

TALLAHASSEE - Attorney General Charlie Crist today announced that
Florida and 26 other states have reached an agreement with a
California-based company resolving solicitation and billing complaints
against the company, and warned Floridians not to fall prey to the
practice. Yellow Pages, Inc., will pay $535,000 to affected consumers
and has agreed to modify its business practices. States will receive
an average of $19,800 of the reimbursement funds, while Florida’s
share is $25,000.

Crist’s office received 80 complaints from consumers or businesses who
were targeted by the company’s questionable solicitation practices,
which involved "refund checks" allegedly sent to solicit small
businesses across the country. When the businesses cashed what
appeared to be $3 or $4 checks, they were automatically enrolled in
the Yellow Pages, Inc., internet directory and were billed $177.

"An unsolicited check in the mail likely comes with long strings
attached," said Crist. "This settlement cuts those strings, puts an
end to anti-consumer business practices and gives unsatisfied
consumers their money back. Anyone receiving such a check should
think twice about cashing it, but at least be aware that it is
unlikely the recipient is receiving something for doing nothing."

As part of the settlement, Yellow Pages, Inc., will refund money to
consumers who have already filed a complaint or do so within 60 days
after the settlement filing date. Previous customers who were billed
but did not pay will have their account canceled. The company has also
agreed to end automatic renewals.

In addition to Florida, participating states include Alabama, Alaska,
Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois,
Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi,
Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon,
Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.

A copy of Florida’s settlement with Yellow Pages is available at:

Get ongoing info from the Florida Attorney General's office here:


Orange Bee Money
Guarantees you
NEW customers!

>> How?    ...Here is the OrangeBee™ Story
from founder... James E "Buddy" Hooper

"I am proud to say that I have spent all my adult life in business. And no matter what type of business it was I found this simple and universal concept to be true. In order for a business to grow and prosper it needs more sales. Despite my sound marketing and advertising programs combined with a stellar sales staff, I was constantly in search for ways to increase my sales. Every night I went to sleep dreaming that a simple but magical program would guarantee me more sales, but every morning I faced the same reality, no such program existed. It seemed that no one could figure out a way to guarantee business growth and increase sales.

This is a Revolutionary Approach That Will Guarantee Additional Sales

All of the traditional methods and ideas I reviewed had the same basic concepts. In order to develop a way to guarantee sales, I realized that I had to discard all the traditional ideas and develop one with a revolutionary approach; one that was beyond the realm of ordinary business strategies.

One day I decided to do something about it and as a result, have spent years creating and perfecting the program you are about to read about. This program requires a willingness to open your mind to new ideas. Remember, minds are like parachutes, they do not work unless they’re open. If accepted in this program, we will absolutely guarantee you additional sales, and we back up that guarantee with credit lines up to $10,000. There are no up front fees, and you pay only 10% cash sales commission on the additional sales we bring you, it’s that simple!

Isn't it true that... Traditional Advertising Cannot Compel Anyone To Buy From A Particular Business?

While many advertising professionals have mastered the art of persuasion and have successfully influenced our buying decisions, none have actually compelled us to purchase a particular product or service, or buy from a particular business. In my experience additional sales and business growth are guaranteed when you can compel someone to purchase a particular product or service, or buy from a particular business, and that is exactly what this program does.

Did you know that... Years Ago There Was Such A Program?!

Has there ever been a program that could compel a person to purchase from a particular business? Yes, years ago there was such a program; in fact you are probably using it today without even knowing it.

How The Credit Card Worked When They Were Introduced

Years ago, when credit cards were first introduced, they offered exclusivity to merchants within designated market areas which compelled cardholders to deal only with these select merchants. While the popularity of credit cards increased dramatically over the years, competing card issuers evolved and exclusivity was no longer a factor. However, during the early years, merchants profited handsomely from the newfound guaranteed sales and willingly paid the card issuers a 10% cash sales commission.

ORANGE BEE Does What The Credit Card Did When It Was Introduced, But Does It In A Different Way... (CLICK FOR MORE INFO)


Singing, Networking
& Tuskegee Airmen

...Networking leads member to sing for Tuskegee Airmen at national convention

Successful business people have long known that "networking" works. Marketing studies have shown time, and time again, that people don't make a buying decision based on price, they don't make it based on features, customer service or any of the many other things you might think. Most buying decisions are made based on a relationship with the company or it's representative.

In many cases this is a prior relationship formed though a networking group, such as the Connections Groups... Central Florida's largest, (over 12,500 members) and original independent business networking and social organization.

Local Blues and Folk singer, Ruth King, discovered that networking also works for non-traditional businesses like entertainment. A one hour performance at a networking event for the Connections Groups yielded instant results...

"Right after my musical performance at The Connections Groups "EXPO EXPO" event I was greeted by Aurora, an attendee, who works with HUD. She invited me to be a part of a historic event at Jones High School, one of 6 HUD events initiated by the Washington, DC HUD office to take place nationally. I got the gig. The event was inspiring and well attended. I was able to sing, there was a budget for me, and I sold CD's." said Ms King.

And... like often happens in "networking," one thing led to yet another.

"From the HUD event, I went on to sing for the Tuskegee Airmen memorial service at the Orange County Convention Center during their annual convention. In this performance there was also a budget for me."

But, besides two new clients, the networking benefits didn't stop there, nor were they just benefits for Ms King.

"EXPO EXPO also reunited me with a friend of 10-plus years ˆ Singing/Vocal coach Ginny Koff. Later I was able to refer two students to Ginny.

So, as the result of singing at EXPO EXPO 2005 I have made money, contacts and been able to pass productive information to my friends and colleagues. Top top it off... I sold CD's at the EXPO EXPO event as well. Can you beat all this?!!" exclaimed Ruth.

Connections Groups founder, Sue Copening, had this to say.

"I'm not at all surprised at Ruth's results from participating in our "Expo Expo" event. Networking works. Also, our organization is not just about traditional businesses. We have been involved in the community at the deepest levels as well. We've hosted numerous fundraisers for such charities as "Toys for Tots," Cystic Fibrosis and Hear my Hands. Our members helped organize events, and raised money for the Mary McLeod Bethune Bronze Statue Project, spearheaded by local hotelier Harris Rosen. We were honored to have former Tuskegee Airman, Judge Decatur, as our featured guest at the Bethune Reception event we organized and hosted.

There is a common denominator in ALL business. People. It doesn't matter whether you sell widgets, sing and dance, appraise real estate, trade on the stock market or perform brain surgery, your customers and those you get business from, are people.

"Let's face it... people do business with people they know first. They are also more likely to do business with friends, and refer business to friends. This is where being part of a networking group like ours really works. And you don't just make business connections at business events. You make them by being on charity committees, attending fundraisers, sporting events and social functions. Where do you meet people that can be integral to your success? Everywhere." say's Ms Copening. "That is why our group is a business networking AND social organization."

Personal relationships are getting to be more and more important. In this 'information age' it's easy to pick up a phone book, or key a word into Google and find numerous sources for a product or service and feel like you are suffering from information overload. How do you know who is the best? Who has a good reputation? Who you can TRUST?

"This is where our organization makes a critical difference in whether a business is successful. A Real Estate agent who has built a 'circle of influence' of hundreds of local people through networking is going to be on the fast track. Their prior relationship with these people gives them an edge. It's been proven time and time again that people do business with people they already know... and trust. On the referral side, I get phone calls and emails daily from members who want a referral to another member."

How much money changes hands through The Connections Groups?

"Who can tell?" says Ms Copening. "I could say it's millions... or billions. But no one could ever accurately measure it. I do know of one instance where it was millions of dollars... with one transaction. One of our members met a financial planner at our event. Later that year he sold his business for more than 3 million dollars and that financial planner invested the money for him.

But the results of networking are often more subtle that that, and therefore, difficult to quantify.

"It's really just a business version of "The Kevin Bacon" game. For instance... I meet Bob at a networking event. Bob later invites me to a party or a golf outing where I meet Sally... who refers me later to my biggest client. This is why it takes a savvy person to really grasp the benefits they get from networking. Some of the biggest benefits can be what I call "2nd or 3rd Tier, such as referrals from referrals, and 'word-of-mouth'" states Ms Copening.

Local Handwriting Expert, Anne Bedinger, got on television because of an event promotion and article about her business that appeared on The Connections Groups web site.

"In less than two weeks on the web site I received numerous calls from new clients. I was also called by a local reporter who was a Connections Groups member and who saw my information on the web site. The result was that my business was profiled on the evening news in front of millions of people!"

What makes the "Connections Groups" really unique?

"We do several things that other groups don't." say's founder Sue Copening... she explains...

"We've got a community and events page on our web site that is one of the top 3 in Central Florida. The 3 areas we currently cover are Orlando, Tampa Bay and Brevard. You can learn about hundreds of other events... not just the one's we organize. We help other groups build their memberships also... by promoting their meetings and events. We are sort of an "umbrella" for networking and community groups.

We have two levels of membership... one that is completely free. At the free level of membership you can have your event included on the web site at absolutely no cost. There are also free posting boards and advertising areas on the web site. Again.. these are part of the free level of membership.

We do an EVENTS newsletter by eMail that keeps you in touch with events... again, not just our events.... but those of other associations, fundraisers, etc. Again... part of the free, basic membership level.

We have a variety of Leads Groups and, unlike any other leads groups, you aren't forced to pay a membership fee to attend. You can attend every group for free the first time. After that, you have an option... you can pay a membership fee for our "Circle of I" (just $120 for an entire year - the lowest of any professional organization), or you can be a member at the free level and simply pay a $5 event fee when you have time to attend a group. This two- tiered system means it fits with your budget AND your schedule.

In our Leads Groups we don't limit by profession. Other groups only allow one member per professional category. They promote this as if it's a benefit to the member... but in reality it allows them to collect more membership fees. We are the "no rules" groups.... we don't limited by profession and we don't "kick you out" of your group if you don't attend a certain number of meetings. Also, you aren't pressured into giving leads. Our groups are more about developing your business and your business relationships. Because people don't do business based on product or service... but because of relationship... "restricting" a leads group to one per profession doesn't guarantee more leads... but it does hurt the business person by not helping them develop their sales and people skills so that they learn how to set themselves apart and above their competition. We help our members be successful in the 'real world.'

Weekly Business Coaching TeleConferences are a business development benefit for our members in the "Circle of I" and accessible to our free members as well. We are continually developing new programs and benefits." says founder, Sue Copening.

The Connections Groups has recently just launched a innovative new "Member Matrix."

Called the "Circle of I" and the "Get Connected" program, this matrix allows members to promote their business in a way that costs them no money... and guarantees they get new customers.

Sponsors offer "Sponsor Gifts" to members who join the "Circle of I." Members joining the "Circle of I" choose the sponsor gift they want... from a list of sponsors.

This means that the member using the gift is "pre-qualified" for the Sponsor. Twice, actually.

First the member "opted" to become a "Circle of I" member. This means they are not only, educated, middle to upper income business people, but they also paid a membership fee to become more connected. Which means they are more likely to be a business owner, or a more highly successful, and connected, business person.

Second, the member had a choice of Sponsor Gifts. The Sponsor then knows that, since their gift was chosen, the member is "pre-disposed" to their product or service. If you sell advertising speciality products... someone isn't going to choose your Gift if they don't have a need to advertise.

Currently it doesn't cost anything to become a "Get Connected" sponsor... although there is an acceptance process. This program is a "no-brainer" for anyone who cultivates repeat business.

Sponsorships are currently free, and Basic membership is always free, in the Connections Groups.

"We like to give people the opportunity to "dip their toe in." says founder Sue Copening, "There is a free level of membership, and lots of free benefits, for those who are just starting out. Then, for those who are looking for more... we have that too. Either way, you'll find something of value here, and a participation level that works for you."

The Connections Groups currently has over 12.500 members in the Central Florida area. New Leads Groups are in development and those interested in starting their own group are invited to contact Sue Copening at sc@connectionsgroups.com

For more information... visit the Connections Groups web site at:
or call... 407-275-2956

Chapters in Tampa Bay, Orlando & Brevard
New chapters staring in Lake County, Volusia & Jacksonville.

World Premiere of
"The Marionette"

Spanning all generations, cultures and viewers of every description, “THE MARIONETTE” is a masterpiece of movement, music and storytelling that takes audiences on a journey of self-discovery and imagination…

The Marionette is understated elegance in storytelling the simple, clean sets, crisp production values and multi-level messages, it will reach into each viewer and let them reach that place inside where the child within still resides.

This production has all the elements of success, great storylines, great talent, great directing and a superb message for people of all ages and cultures.

Just one of the many characters created by "Nicholas J.," The Marionette's story has charmed children of all ages across the world and, now, in it's film incarnation, will continue to do so... reaching places that a live performance cannot.

Born in 1972 in Soviet Georgia, from an early age, Nicolas knew that his calling was to be involved in the theater. Young Nicolas demonstrated a passion for acting, dancing and stepping into the spotlight whenever possible.

At just 16 years of age he walked away from his country and family to follow his dream of studying with his hero, the world most famous mime, Marcel Marceau.

With no money and only his talent to survive on he performed on the streets to earn enough money for the audition and entrance exams. His dream came true, after an audition in front of the greatest mime in the world, he was not only accepted, but was given a 100% scholarship. He went on to become known as the prized student of Marcel Marceau.

Nicolas then went on to complete his dream and entered into ESRA, the largest private film school in France. Nicolas was one of the youngest graduates at ESRA, but also at the top of his class.

After being noticed by a talent scout from Disney he was offered an international contract and began to travel the world, creating new shows and training new actors.

In 1998 he founded his own company, World Gate Entertainment , featuring his acts including: The Amazing Statues, Drums of the Congo, Bubble Nicolas and... "The Marionette."

And now, in 2005, the story of "The Marionette" has finally been brought to film and Papillon Productions, of Hollywood, California, is presenting the “World Premiere” in Lakeland.  This location was chosen because of the theaters size, seating nearly 1500 people each night, and its beauty with overhanging balcony and large stage, which will bring an "old world" charm to the premiere which will fit the uniqueness of this production.

Already "The Marionette" has garnered acclaim from the film and entertainment community.

The Los Angeles Times has billed “The Marionette” as the greatest children’s film in thirty-five years!!

You are invited to see this award winning show... it's a "one in a life-time" chance... Nowhere in the world will anyone see the movie, AND live stage performances by the stars, at one time. Papillon has entered “The Marionette” at the New York Independent Film Festival and World Fest Houston for worldwide distribution. With a little bit of luck, a whole-lot-of –prayers and great talent, Marionette Pictures goal is to produce a series of shows.

The evening will begin with greeting by “Scrumpy” and “Socket”, two 6 foot "animaltronic" crickets beginning 260 episodes on ABC TV the 1st of October, 2005. Next will be a live performance by Nicholas J., Hatune Oliver and Steven Rohmer, followed by the film “The Marionette.” Next will be another live performance of "Bubble Nicholas" followed by autographs and photos with the stars.

Papillon Productions and Omega Film Distributors invite the audience to bring their own cameras for photos although, due to copyright laws, no video recorders are permitted. No exceptions.
>>> Papillon Productions will distribute many gifts to the audience such as T-shirts, original DVD with Dolby surround sound and Autographed posters by the “Stars.” Bill Rodd, Director of “The Marionette” will speak of Distribution and future acting opportunities with major productions. Papillon Productions has five (5) films in development pre-production and production at the current time. Actors with talent are always needed.

Following each night’s performance 15 – 20 of the audience members will be invited to a late night dinner in downtown Lakeland.

The Restaurant will hold a capacity of 200 therefore everyone is welcome and this may be your opportunity to speak to someone regarding your acting career or as a crew member, or to just meet the cast and crew involved in this unique project.

Tickets to the World Premiere are available
now by calling Papillon Productions at:
(863) 802-0910 in Lakeland or
(323) 363-1232 in Hollywood, California.

If the lines are busy, please leave a message.
All tickets are $15.00 general audience and $20.00 for reserved seating.
Tickets will be brought to Orlando twice weekly.
Tickets to the World Premiere are available now by calling Papillon Productions at (863) 802-0910 in Lakeland or (323) 363-1232 in Hollywood, California. If the lines are busy, please leave a message. All tickets are $15.00 general audience and $20.00 for reserved seating. Tickets will be brought to Orlando twice weekly.
Call Papillon Productions at (863) 802-0910 in Lakeland or (323) 363-1232 in Hollywood, California.

TheMarionette1@aol.com  or (407) 772 2251
More info on: www.LocalSpeaker.com
and... www.worldgateentertainment.com


Florida Filmaker Debuts at the
Los Angeles International Short Film Festival

The World Premiere of the thirty minute moral drama, "THE LEDGE" happens Sept 7th at the Arclight Cinemas
on Sunset Blvd, L.A. @ 10:15 pm at the
L.A. International Short Film Festival.

The movie was truly a joint effort between Director/Writer/ Producer Quinn Duffy and Executive Producer/Writer/Director of Photography Tony Sommo. 

Produced economically on location (an undisclosed rooftop in St. Petersburg) for five days between hurricanes last year, the drama focuses on a yuppie throwing a rooftop party (Patrick Jones from Orlando) and a distressed plumber (Director Quinn Duffy) intent on ruining the festivities by jumping to his death. 

Mr. Duffy and Mr. Sommo met in 2002 when Quinn played the lead in Mr. Sommo's feature "Dropped Frames" which premiered at the 2003 Sarasota Film Festival. (which they hope to return to in March 2006 to premiere "The Ledge" in Florida) While the two filmmakers stay busy in the Florida independent film circuit, they still maintain other occupations as restaurant owner(Duffy) and airline pilot(Sommo).
More info: http://www.lashortsfest.com
Mr. Sommo's email: tsommo@mindspring.com


You Can Help Locate
a Missing Child

"Eyes of America" is placing pictures of missing and abducted children on trucks all over the country. Your gift of $25.00 will provide another pair of "eyes", in the form of a poster on a truck, to help find these children.  You will receive a certificate of appreciation with the child's name on it.
Please visit www.eyesofamerica.org  for details.
While on the site download your FREE music video "Stay Safe."  This will help teach young children the tips on stranger danger. "Eye's of America", a project of Child Watch of North America,  relies solely on private donations and sponsorships and receives no federal or state funding for its efforts. Please help them help these children. 

To donate, send checks to...

Eyes of America/Child Watch
6400 Times Square Ave,
Ste.  B109
Orlando, FL 32835


Kidz Unite for Kids
Orlando’s “Kidpower Kidz” musical group performs in first Radio Disney interview to help children protect themselves

Orlando, FL. June 13, 2005:   Children learn best when they are having fun and Orlando’s Kidpower Kidz is helping to do just that. The youthful musical group recently released their first song, “Stay Safe”, giving children a list of pointers, through musical lyrics, on how to avoid the danger of abduction. The group appeared in a 30 minute interview on Radio Disney with DJ Jim and KidCaster Sam to explain how they are an integral part of “Eye’s of America”, a project of Child Watch of North America, an organization devoted to finding missing and abducted children through awareness and education and Kid Power LLC.  

Kidpower Kidz are sending safety messages, via musical lyrics, to children everywhere to educate them on how to play it safe and avoid being a victim of abduction.  It is all about kids helping kids.  Don Wood, President of Child Watch of North America said, “Music is a very powerful force in reaching young children and can be used positively or negatively. We are all too familiar with some of the music today being banned for obscenity and sending wrong messages to our youth. Kidpower Kidz uses the power of music to send wholesome, meaningful messages to children everywhere about safety and self-protection”.

Inspired by the National Amber Code Alert Program, “Eyes of America”, is dedicated to reducing the number of child abductions through meaningful and effective awareness campaigns, education and innovative products for families and children A combined effort of Child Watch of North America, KidPower LLC and the nation’s over-the-road truck drivers “Eyes of America” is a commitment to find and help children in distress. Soon, every major highway in America will have the “eyes” of truck drivers assisting local police and organizations to find missing and abducted children.  Eyes of America is a program that will trigger a series of events to get the trucks rolling for these children all over the world each displaying a picture of a missing child.  

Kidpower Kidz and Kidsational Records teen pop sensation, TGK (www.TGKmusic.com) will be the lead performers for Florida Missing Children’s Day on the steps of the Capital in Tallahassee on September 12, 2005. The group will also be featured in the Worlds  Largest Truck Convoy Promotion in the fall.  

Besides Radio Disney, the group was recently featured on KissFM Radio in Nashville and seen locally on television via WESH-TV2(NBC), Central Florida News Channel 13 and FOX 35.

For in-depth and sponsorship information on “Eye’s of America”, please visit their website....  www.eyesofamerica.net

Child Watch of North America is a 501 C (3) charity.

Copyright 2005 / The Connections Groups
12940 Downstream Circle, Orlando, FL 32828
407-275-2956 / sc@connectionsgroups.com