Editor’s note: This is the first in a new feature from LTW, “Networking.” Watch for plenty of name dropping and story telling from future networking events around the Triangle and elsewhere.Thursday night was sort of a coming out part for the newest members of the executive team at Grant Thornton’s North Carolina practice.

Tim Tompkins, the fund-raising leader for the Council for Entrepreneurial Development’s multi-million dollar “Innovation to Impact” campaign, was introducing himself as Grant Thornton’s business development leader at “The Tech Exec” networking event.

He will lead business development out of the Raleigh office for the central and eastern parts of North Carolina. Grant Thornton is one of the top 10 accounting firms. The faces in the crowd were just as he had hoped — decision makers of mid-market companies who he says are Grant Thornton’s sweet spot.

“Grant Thornton has a commitment to economic development in the region,” Tompkins said between handshakes and congratulations. But he also said Grant Thornton also had a strong “public sector focus.”

Tompkins was among 180 or so executives and entrepreneurs who showed up for the first networking event put on by Local Tech Wire and ClearImage PR. After his new position was announced in LTW on Friday as well as in The Triangle Business Journal, Tompkins received a host of e-mails and congratulatory phone calls.

Fullseven reaching out

Ken Arneson, CEO of Fullseven Technologies, said he is expanding his flagship Lettermark email product across the states through affiliate resellers and has a partner concentrating on developing the European market.

Arneson expressed his time was well spent at Tech Exec. He developed new business and commented, “This is the best gathering of C-level executives that I’ve attended by far.”

Channeling in on targets

Randy Choplin, chief executive officer of wireless broadband provider WindChannel, agreed to sign on as one of the five sponsors — Peak 10, SAS, Insignia MetaPartners and Morrisville Chamber of Commerce, which hosted the event — supporting this year’s quarterly TechExec events because of its focus on creating an exchange for C-level executives in the Triangle.

“That was the reality,” Choplin reported Friday morning. “I’ve been bragging to people about how fantastic it was. I sent follow-up e-mails all night and morning.

“It was a great way to track down people I’ve been trying to meet,” Choplin added. “I finally met the CEO from Peak 10 (David Jones), and we spent one hour talking about how we can do business together.”

Name dropping —

Some people don’t anticipate networking functions with much excitement. The dread of making an appearance at TechExec was no different for Carol Nix, president of Nix Design. But the following morning she only had raves about this particular function.

A well-known name when it comes to helping public entities go private is Michael Zapata III, Entrepreneur in Residence at North Carolina State University, who develops business plans and assembles executive management teams for start-ups. He was on hand representing the Morrisville Chamber of Commerce as a board member.

Jeffrey Denny, director of life science and technology recruitment for the Wake County Economic Development, received an e-mail invitation to the event, and it’s his job to be informed about the tech community’s goings on. He showed up, quite possibly looking for tips about tech companies looking to expand in to the region.