Auburn business group looks toward worldwide network
A new destination for professionals to network is taking root in Auburn. Called the Gold Country Prospectors, the chapter is nearing the membership number it needs to join Business Networking International.
Local Coldwell Banker Realtors Lynn and Larry Grilli are leading the effort.
“I was familiar with BNI from my cousin who started a business in Waco, Texas,” Lynn Grilli said. “I went with her to a meeting there and realized that 70 percent of her business comes from referrals.”
According to Grilli, her cousin went from being a one-person business to having a 14-person staff and a half-million dollars in yearly revenue after she joined BNI.
When she returned home, Grilli began researching BNI and attended a meeting of the Rocklin chapter. She was impressed with what she learned.
“You become part of BNI’s worldwide network,” Grilli said. “There are lots of stories about people getting jobs and referrals from other countries.”
And there were other aspects that appealed to her.
“BNI is very much about ethics,” she said. “Some groups will fine you for not bringing in referrals but BNI doesn’t do that. Plus one of the most important things is they teach you how to run a referral-based business. They teach everything we need to know to run our group and also how to network. There’s always ongoing training and support.”
The Grillis started the Gold Country Prospectors in February. It meets for 90 minutes Tuesday mornings at the Holiday Inn.
“The purpose of being in the group is to build your business through referrals and also it is about building relationships in your group,” Grilli said. “The better you know someone, the more likely you are to refer business to them. You want your people taken care of and to know they are in good hands.”
The group includes professionals from Auburn, Meadow Vista, Foresthill and surrounding communities.
“You can have only one business person in each (career) category unless the jobs within the category are different,” Gold Country Prospectors media spokesman Rick Tracewell said.
There’s a range of fields yet to be represented in the Auburn group.
“The part I really want to get going is health services — chiropractors, acupuncture, massage,” Grilli said. “(Among the other categories I’d like to see) are hair dresser, esthetician and house cleaner.”
Working within BNI, there are local, state, national and international levels.
“What is appealing about BNI is there is an international website where you can log in and do searches — for example, find someone across the United States to send business to that has a local connection,” Tracewell said.
He estimates the first year’s membership cost at $550 and then about $350 in subsequent years. That includes the chapter’s monthly dues, which can range from $20 to $50 to cover the cost of the meeting room rental and breakfast, snacks or coffee, depending on what members decide they want, he explained.
“If you are getting referrals, it will pay for itself,” Grilli said.
Those interested in filling out a membership application must include two references.
This is Auburn’s first chapter, but in addition to Rocklin, there are also chapters in Roseville, Grass Valley and Truckee. The Auburn chapter will be part of the BNI Central Valley District, which is headed by executive director John Lisle.